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Elizabeth Clarisse Lange’s parents were refugees who fled to Cuba from the revolution taking place in their native Saint Domingue. In the early 1800s young Elizabeth left Santiago, Cuba to seek peace and security in the United States. She settled in Baltimore, Maryland, where a great influx of French-speaking Catholic Saint Domingue refugees was settling. There, she used her own money and home to educate refugee children. In 1829, she founded the order of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a society of African-American religious, as there were no other options for African American women to become Catholic sisters. They vowed to dedicate themselves to educating both Catholic and non-Catholic African American children. They also ministered to orphans, cholera patients, and the elderly.

By 1860, all of the Catholic schools for “colored” children in Baltimore were taught by Oblate Sisters: St. Frances Academy, St. Joseph’s School for Boys and St. Michael’s. During the 20th century, Oblate schools were founded in 15 states in the United States. They have given witness during periods of social struggle by active participation for almost 200 years of continual service to schools, day care centers, outreach and catechetical programs which encompass all age levels. They provide social and pastoral services to all ethnic groups.

Novena for Racial Justice