Mother Mary Lange
Mother Lange was born around 1789 in Cuba 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 took 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.
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.
“One can’t tell the history of the Catholic School system in this country without mentioning Mother Mary Lange. She was a visionary woman of deep faith and recognized the life-changing role of education in the lives of children, most especially those living on society’s margins.”
Most Rev. William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore
Mother Mary Lange Catholic School will be the new home for current students of Holy Angels Catholic School and Ss. James and John Catholic School, both bringing an exceptional amount of history.
Saints James and John Catholic School
With history reaching back to 1847, Saints James and John Catholic School has been educating children in the Catholic tradition for more than a century. Ss. James and John School is one of the oldest Black Catholic Schools in Baltimore.
Holy Angels Catholic School
Holy Angels’ history can be traced back to generations of families from Father Charles Hall, St. Peter Claver, St. Ambrose, St. Bernadine, and St. William of York. Families who attended these schools continued their tradition of a Catholic education for their children and grandchildren at Holy Angels.