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New US Catholic school to be named in honour of Mother Lange

A new Catholic elementary school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore will honour Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, who founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first religious community of women of African descent, and opened the first Catholic school in the United States for black children.

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said that the school will be called the “Mother Mary Lange Catholic School.”

In April, the archdiocese announced plans for the first new K-8 school in the city in nearly six decades. The school was initially to be named after the late Cardinal William H. Keeler, former archbishop of Baltimore, but that plan changed after the Pennsylvania grand jury’s report detailed what it described as his “criminal inaction” against an abusive priest when he was a bishop of Harrisburg.

In a statement, Archbishop Lori said: “As a result of today’s painful revelations about the cardinal’s failures to protect children while serving as bishop of Harrisburg, it is no longer the plan of the archdiocese to name the proposed new Catholic school in Baltimore after Cardinal Keeler.”

The new school’s current name will not be the first time a school in the Baltimore Archdiocese has been named after Mother Lange. In 2005, three Baltimore parish schools were consolidated and reopened as Mother Mary Lange Catholic School, but it closed in 2010.

The Vatican is currently reviewing Mother Lange’s sainthood cause. In general, canonisation requires confirmation of two miracles attributed to her intercession.

Mother Lange was born in 1784 in the Caribbean, immigrated to Baltimore and opened, in her home in East Baltimore, a school for black children that would become St Frances Academy.

Picture: A rendering of the proposed new Catholic elementary school in Baltimore that will honour the name of Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, which was the first religious community of women of African descent, and the first Catholic school in the United States for black children. The Vatican is reviewing Mother Lange’s cause for canonisation. (CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Baltimore).