|Death: ||Feb. 3, 1882|
Founder of the first black Roman Catholic order in the United States; the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first black school for girls and the first black Roman Catholic School; The Saint Frances Academy. The daughter of Annette and Clovis Lange, they left Haiti and immigrated to Cuba sometime before the Haitian Revolution. Elizabeth and Annette left Cuba for the United States and came to Baltimore with other French speaking Catholic refugees. Although a refugee she was well educated and had money. Elizabeth Lange found that there was no public education provided for black children in Baltimore. Unlike other southern states, Maryland did not have a law prohibiting the education of blacks so Elizabeth took charge of educating black children at her own expense in her home with another female refugee, Marie Magdalene Balas. She was forced to close her school in 1827 because of lack of funds and in trying to find some means of supporting a school for black children, Elizabeth turned to the Sulpician fathers. She found a supporter in Father James Hector Joubert who encouraged her in her educational aspirations for black children and in her desire to become a member of a religious order. Existing orders admitted only white women so Elizabeth and Father Joubert agreed it would be necessary to establish a new and separate order for black women. With the approval of the Archbishop of Baltimore, Elizabeth began her novitiate on June 13, 1828 and on July 2, 1829 Mother Lange took the name of Mary and professed her vows with three other women. Mother Lange served as the order’s first Mother Superior from 1829 to 1832 then again from 1835 to 1841. During the Baltimore Cholera Epidemic of 1832, the Bureau of the Poor appealed to local religious orders for nurses to minister to the sick in the almshouse. Although the Oblates Sisters were a teaching order and were not obligated to care for the sick, Mother Lange and eleven of the Oblates gladly volunteered their help. All returned alive but even though the Sisters of Charity, a white nursing order, did receive public recognition for their efforts, they received no official thanks. As they began their preparations for taking their religious vows, the three women established the first Catholic school for colored children which would become The Saint Frances Academy in 1828 and is still in operation today educating children of all ethnic backgrounds. Her Order and school were pioneer in the field of education for neglected colored children and the earliest teacher-training institute in Baltimore for black women. Her order now numbers 125 sisters. (bio by: Izzebella)
Note: Originally buried at New Cathedral Cemetery, Baltimore, her remains were moved to the Our Lady of Mount Providence Chapel of the Oblate Sisters of Providence on June 3, 2013.
Our Lady of Mount Providence Convent Chapel
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 2288
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