The Catholic Church has taken a big step toward bestowing a Baltimore woman with the honor of becoming a saint.
Mother Mary Lange founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence here in Baltimore back in 1828, with the mission of educating underprivileged children.
It is the first successful Catholic sisterhood in the world that was established by a woman of African descent.
“We have prayed fervently for this day to become a reality, and now God has answered our prayers,” said Sister Mary Alexis Fisher, OSP, Superior General of the Oblate Sisters of Providence.
The Sisters hosted an emotional service on Monday, at their Motherhouse in Halethorpe.
“I never thought anything like this would happen in my lifetime,” said Sister Reginald Gerdes of the Oblate Sisters of Providence.
Inside a small chest in the center of the church were the remains of Mother Mary Lange, who died in 1882.
“We've been very emotional at times and we've cried and we're just so happy today this is a great day, the day that the lord has made and we're certainly rejoicing and being glad,” Sister Mary Alexis said.
Lange overcame racism, poverty and illness to accomplish her mission; the school that she founded still exists – St. Frances Academy in East Baltimore.
The process of canonization saint began in 1991. As part of that process, last month, the body of Mother Mary Lange was exhumed.
Members of the Oblate Sisters celebrated when they learned it was actually her.
“To find her remains, her skull intact, and many other bones were there. So now we have her remains here- imagine - in our Motherhouse,” said Sister Mary Alexis.
Archbishop William Lori helped place her remains in what is now her final resting place.
“So many good works for the poor, and she showed us how serving others is doing the will of God and she did it in an extraordinary way,” he said.
It's a place they hope people might visit.
“It was a wonderful experience just being here, and knowing that at last the diocese and tech church was recognizing somebody that did a good job. Very good,” Sister Reginald said.
The next step for the canonization process is a long report on Mother Mary Lange's life --- called a Positio -- that will be finished next month and submitted to the Vatican.
Then proof of two miracles will be needed for her to finally become a saint. Sister Mary Alexis Fisher says she thinks there were miracles in Mother Mary Lange's life.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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