The following study guide had been created for use with the book “Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood” (OSV, $9.95). It is suitable for individual or group study.

Opening Prayer to be used before each lesson

V. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
R. And kindle in them the fire of your love.

 

V. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

 

Let us pray:
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

 
Closing Prayer to be used at the end of each lesson (also on Pages 108-109)

Let us pray!

Lord God, you are praised, adored, and loved through the lives and example of your servants. May it please you to work wonders by the intercession of these servants through whom your glory shines. In them we see humanity’s true greatness, a sign of your favor and blessing. Through them we are drawn more deeply into the mystery of your Son’s saving love.

Even as we pray that the Church will one day designate them as canonized saints, may their witness bring transformation to our lives.

Like Mother Mary Lange, may our faith shine brightly amid hardship so that we will trust always in your providence. Like Julia Greeley, may our hope remain intact despite the darkness and pain in our lives. Like Pierre Toussaint, may our hearts be aflame with charity for all your children. Like Father Augustus Tolton, may we be instruments of unity and reconciliation, not embittered by our sufferings. Like Mother Henriette Delille, may we persevere in our calling, no matter the obstacles, so that we may serve all in your name. Like Sister Thea Bowman, may we sing your wonders tirelessly, to greatest and least alike.

And above all else, Lord, help us to follow your Son each day. Through him, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, may we come to worship you with all the angels and saints for ever and ever. Amen
………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Pierre Toussaint

Venerable Pierre Toussaint

Read
Biography (Pages 25-30)

 

Reflect
Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12)

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

Read
Toussaint: A School of Determination and Generosity by Elizabeth Scalia (Pages 31-36)

 

Respond

Some have accused Venerable Pierre Toussaint as being complicit with the culture of slavery because he did not fight to liberate his people and did not purchase his own legal freedom. Why might this be a false assumption?

Toussaint, like so many, faced marginalization in the Church. Based on what is relayed about his own life, why does it seem he remained Catholic?

Toussaint is the only Black Catholic candidate for canonization who was married. In what ways can the marriage of Toussaint and his wife inspire other married couples?

Offer the prayer for Toussaint’s beatification (Page 30).
……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Henriette Delille

Venerable Henriette Delille

Read
Biography (Pages 39-43)

 

Reflect
Christ’ Coming and Rejection (Jn 1:11-13)

 

He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor
by a man’s decision but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

 

Read
Delille: A School of Perseverance and Patience by Fr. Josh Johnson (Pages 45-50)

 

Respond

How might God have been working even through the ugliness of racial hatred in Henriette Delille’s day, particularly through her foundation of the Sisters of the Holy Family?

In what ways was conversion central to Delille’s story of holiness?

How can Delille’s perseverance inspire us today?

Offer the prayer for Delille’s beatification (Page 44).
………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Augustus Tolton

Venerable Augustus Tolton

Read
Biography (Pages 53-58)

 

Reflect
The Disciples’ Mission (Lk 9:1-6)

 

He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal [the sick].
He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”
Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news
and curing diseases everywhere.

 

Read
Tolton: A School of Unity and Sacrifice by Bishop Joseph N. Perry (Pages 59-64)

 

Respond

What about Augustus Tolton’s upbringing shaped his ministry and gave him a heart for the poor and marginalized?

How can Tolton’s story inspire us to trust that all things work for the good for those who love God? (cf. Rom 8:28)

What are some of the lessons in Tolton’s life that show suffering has a purpose in the Christian life?

Offer the prayer for Tolton’s beatification (Pages 57-58).
………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Mother Mary Lange

Servant of God Mary Lange

Read
Biography (Pages 67-71)

 

Reflect
Confidence in Christ (Mt 7:7-11)

 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asks for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

 

Read
Lange: A School of Confidence in Providence by Gloria Purvis (Pages 73-78)

 

Respond

What can we learn from the fact that a woman of Mary Lange’s status and talents would not let go of the calling to religious life?

How does humility illuminate Lange’s life?

In what ways can we learn from Lange’s trust in God’s providence?

Offer the prayer for Lange’s beatification (Pages 71-72).
………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Julia Greeley

Servant of God Julia Greeley

Read
Biography (Pages 81-85)

 

Reflect
The Good Sheep (Mt 25:31-46)

 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

 

Read
Greeley: A School of Hope and Mercy by Sr. Josephine Garrett, CSFN (Pages 87-91)

 

Respond

What can we learn from Julia Greeley’s mutual love for the Eucharist and her service to the poor?

Greeley’s life was a lesson of turning life’s lemons into lemonade. How can she inspire us to accept the trials we face in life?

What are some of the characteristics of Christ’s Sacred Heart that we find in Greeley’s own?

Offer the prayer for Greeley’s beatification (Pages 85-86).
………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Thea Bowman

Servant of God Thea Bowman

Read
Biography (Pages 93-97)

 

Reflect
Commissioned by Christ (Mt 28:16-20)

 

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

 

Read
Bowman: A School of Evangelization and Discipleship by Peter Jesserer Smith (Pages 99-104)

 

Respond

How can Sister Thea Bowman teach us to be more attentive to the cultures that form and shape the members of our society?

What are some ways Bowman teaches us to be more joyful in our proclamation of the Gospel?

How can Bowman’s life instruct us to be “fully functioning” disciples?

Offer the prayer for Bowman’s beatification (Pages 97-98).

“Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood” (OSV, $9.95) is the first book to explore the lives of the six Black Catholics from the United States whose causes are under formal consideration by the Catholic Church for canonization.

 
Images courtesy of National Black Catholic Congress.