Feast of James Nicholas Joubert and Mary Elizabeth Lange (February 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Baltimore (1837)

Image Creators = Moses Swett and Philip Haas

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-pga-04182

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JACQUES MARIE HECTOR NICOLAS JOUBERT DE LA MURAILLE (SEPTEMBER 6, 1777-1843)

French-American Roman Catholic Priest

worked with

MARIE ELIZABETH LANGE (1784?-FEBRUARY 3, 1882)

Haitian-American Roman Catholic Nun

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FOUNDERS OF THE OBLATE SISTERS OF PROVIDENCE

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Mary Elizabeth Lange comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  James Nicholas Joubert joins Lange and shares a feast day with her because they founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence in 1829.  The Roman Catholic Church is considering taking Lange through steps that may culminate in canonization.  I choose, however, not to wait for Holy Mother Church to act.

Jacques Marie Hector Nicolas Joubert de la Muraille was one of the priests who proved invaluable in making Lange’s accomplishments possible.  He, born to Suzanne Claire Cathering Guimbaut and attorney Jean Joseph Marie Joubert in Saint Jean d’Angely, France, on September 6, 1777, worked as a soldier then as a tax agent.  The Napoleonic government assigned Joubert to Saint-Dominigue (now Haiti).  The tax agent fled in 1803, during the Haitian Revolution.  He arrived first in Cuba then immigrated to the United States.  Joubert matriculated at St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1805.  He, ordained a priest five years later, joined the Society of Saint-Sulpice and taught geology and French at the seminary.  Starting in 1827, our saint taught the catechism (in French) to Haitian-American children at the Lower Chapel of the seminary.  He met Mary Elizabeth Lange at the Lower Chapel.

Marie Elizabeth Lange obeyed her calling from God.  She, born into a well-to-do Haitian family in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, circa 1784, received a fine education.  Lange immigrated to the United States in the early 1800s.  She, having settled in Baltimore by 1813, recognized the need for more schools for free African Americans in the city.  Church-run schools existed yet did not meet all needs collectively.  Furthermore, no public schools for African Americans existed.  Lange opened a school for Haitian immigrant youth in her home.  Marie Balas helped our saint teach the otherwise underserved population.

James Whitfield, the Archbishop of Baltimore, asked Father Joubert to open a girls’ school.  The priest recruited Lange and Balas.  Joubert also learned of the vocations of Lange, Balas, and two other African-American women to religious life.  Given the lack of any order to accept them, the women became the first members of a new order, which Joubert and Lange founded.  The Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first order for African-American women in the Roman Catholic Church, came into existence on July 2, 1829, with four sisters.  Lange became Sister (later Mother) Mary and served as the first Superior General.  The order, which received papal approval in 1831, operated St. Frances Academy, Baltimore.  As time passed, the Sisters grew in numbers and in social services, such as classes for women, career and vocational training, and homes for orphans and widows.  In 1832, Sisters (including Lange) risked their lives to minister to victims of an outbreak of cholera in the city.  This work required financing, of course.  Joubert, Lange, and the other Sisters raised funds.

Archbishop Samuel Eccleston (in office 1834-1851, succeeding Whitfield) attempted to disband the new religious order.  Regarding the Oblate Sisters of Providence, he asked,

What’s the use?

After Father Joubert died in 1843, the position of spiritual director of the order remained vacant for years.  Finally, in 1847, Father Thaddeus Anwander persuaded Eccleston to appoint him to fill the vacancy, and the fortunes and prospects of the Sisters improved.

Lange, the mistress of novices (1850-1860), laid down her burdens on February 3, 1882.

The Oblate Sisters of Providence minister in the United States and Costa Rica.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 11, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF UPPER THEBAID

THE FEAST OF ANNE HOULDITCH, ANGLICAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN STAINER AND WALTER GALPIN ALCOCK, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANISTS AND COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATIENS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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O God, by whose grace your servants James Nicholas Joubert and Mary Elizabeth Lange,

kindled with the flame of your love, became burning and shining lights in your Church:

Grant that we may also be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 723

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