St. John Memorial Prayer Center #2

What you will find in the Prayer Center . . .

  1. Relief of Christ Crucified – We thought this might be metal but on closer examination it is likely a very hard ceramic. The theme of the passion weighs heavy in the chapel and here again is Christ (an upper body) crowned with thorns and delivered to the cross. This is on the wall next to the ambo or lectern.
  2. Pewter Plate of the Last Supper – This is a pewter plate for the wall next to the tabernacle. While it might seem redundant, we wanted some depiction of the Holy Spirit.
  3. Oval of the Pieta – This decoration from Toscano was originally intended as an attachment to a wooden pulpit/ambo or to a tabernacle pedestal. However, other decisions were made and it was placed on the side-wall next to the chair and tabernacle.
  4. Bells, Crucifix & Cruets – These sacramentals were purchased for the Mass. Not shown is the crucifix and ciborium acquired by Fr. Michael C. Kidd Knights of Columbus Council. The crucifix matches the candles on the altar. It was much larger than we had anticipated.
  5. St. Joseph of Nazareth Print – Here is a framed print we really like entitled “St. Joseph of Nazareth” by the local artist Brother Robert Lentz, OFM.  He is stationed in Silver Spring, MD.  It is done in an icon style. It is on the side-wall (between windows) in front of the ambo/lectern.
  6. I Am a Child of God Print – This incredibly moving print speaks to our diversity as a faith community. The artist is Howard Lyon. It is on the wall near the side door. He writes on his website: “Among the greatest treasures of knowledge that we have been given is this: we are all the children of God.  This truth carries with it great blessings.  It should guide us in how we treat those around us and in how we view ourselves.  Each of God’s children are of great worth with immeasurable potential. In this painting we see children from many different cultures and backgrounds.  They stand with Christ, bearing witness with him that they are children of God.  All of the kids look directly at the viewer confident in the joy they feel in the presence of their Savior. When we strive to see others as God would see us, our hearts are softened, our minds are opened and the Spirit comes to dwell with us, bringing peace and joy.”
  7. Historical Photos of Our Children – These eight photographs of parish school children are from the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. It is situated in the back of the room. We want the Prayer Center to be a space for prayer, instruction and remembrance… about our history as Catholics in the U.S. and about the legacy of Holy Family as a refuge for African-American believers and later for Filipinos and others. Instead of division, we should all embrace our ethnic diversity as a cultural richness that we bring to our unity in Christ as brothers and sisters.
  8. Metallic Depiction of the Holy Family – This is an antique framed-metal depiction of the Holy Family, befitting our parish patronage. It is on the wall next to the tabernacle.

Above the archival photographs of children at Holy Family Parish is an image of Mother Lange. Until recently we were still getting our hosts mailed from her convent in Baltimore. We have since added a photo of our archbishop, Wilton Cardinal Gregory, the first African-American Cardinal.

Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange

Foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Mother Lange was born around 1789 in what is today Haiti to a well-off family. She, along with hundreds of others, fled that country in the late 18th century when a revolution occurred. She came to Baltimore, where a great number of Catholic, French-speaking refugees had settled. Although Elizabeth was a refugee, she was well-educated and wealthy due to money left to her by her father.

Prior to the Emancipation Proclamation, there was no public education for Blacks in Baltimore since Maryland was a slave state and the education of slaves was outlawed. Mother Lange too charge of educating Black children in her own home in Baltimore at her own expense with another female refugee.

Archbishop James Whitfield challenged Elizabeth to establish a religious order of women for the education of Black children. In 1828, with the help of Sulpician Father James Joubert, S.S., Mother Lange and two other Black women started the first Black Catholic school in the Catholic Church in America. A year later, on July 2, 1829, three Black women, and Mother Lange pronounced vows to become the first religious order of women of African descent. She took the name Mary at her profession of vows. Mother Lange served as the first mother superior of the order from 1829 to 1832, then again from 1835 to 1841. Despite discouragement, racism and a lack of funds, Mother Lange continued to educate children and meet the total needs of the Black Catholic community.

She died on February 3, 1882 and is buried in the New Cathedral Cemetery on Old Frederick Road. Today the Oblate Sisters of Providence number 125 sisters, 20 associates and 16 Guild members. Their motto: Providence will Provide!

Source: Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, Maryland State Archives.