First black sisters pioneered black spirituality in Catholic Church
Oblate Sister of Providence Magdala Marie Gilbert decided a while back that she was only going to live to be 100. That means there’s 13 years left for her realize her goal of seeing Mother Mary Lange, the Oblates’ foundress, become a saint.
“So she best to get canonized in that time,” Gilbert said, chuckling. Of course, Gilbert knows all things work in God’s time and not her own. But that doesn’t keep her from hoping. “Oh God, the words can’t express how happy I would be if it happened in my lifetime.”
Gilbert, who heads the Mother Mary Lange Guild, is currently looking for a professional postulator to finish Mother Lange’s positio — that is, the book laying out Mother Lange’s case for sainthood. The last postulator resigned last year, citing scheduling conflicts, and Gilbert is trying not to be angry.
“I probably could finish the positio, but they won’t let me finish it,” Gilbert said, chuckling again. “What can I say? There’s somebody in the world who’d be able to do that positio.”
The Oblate Sisters of Providence were the first congregation of black women religious in the United States. Lange, a free black woman from Cuba, founded the congregation in 1829 to educate the black girls of Baltimore, where she had emigrated.