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Forum to address struggles of black women religious
archived from: 2005-10-28

Benedictine Father Cyprian Davis and Holy Family Sister Sylvia Thibodeaux plan to speak Sunday, Nov. 6, at an afternoon forum at Synod Hall of St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

The pair will speak on “The Struggle of Black Women Religious in the United States” at 1:15 p.m., following the noon Mass at which Father Davis will be the celebrant.

The forum is sponsored by the St. Paul Cathedral Race & Reconciliation Dialogue Group and the Tri-Parish Black Saints Committee in cooperation with the diocese’s Department for Black Catholics, Ethnic and Cultural Communities.

Father Davis, educator and author of “The History of Black Catholics in the U.S.,” is a major authority on black religious growth and a founding member of the National Black Clergy Caucus.

Ordained in 1956, Father Davis is a monk from the St. Meinrad Benedictine Archabbey in Indiana, where he is a professor of church history in the school of theology. Receiving his degree in sacred theology from Catholic University and a doctorate in history from the University of Louvain in Belgium, he has written extensively on black Catholic spirituality in the United States.

Sister Sylvia is congregational leader of the Sisters of the Holy Family of New Orleans, one of the earliest black religious orders in the United States. She comes from New Orleans, where the order’s motherhouse and social service facilities have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Elected as superior general of the Sisters of the Holy Family in 1998, she continues the work of her predecessors in promoting the cause of sainthood for Mother Henriette Delille, founder of the pre-Civil War order. Currently being considered for sainthood, Mother Delille may become one of the nation’s first black saints.

Sister Sylvia was educated by the Sisters of Charity at Seton Hill College, where she graduated in 1967. Following a master’s degree at Antioch College in Washington, D.C., and theological studies at Duquesne University, she spent 18 years in Nigeria helping to found an indigenous religious order in the Benin City Archdiocese and the first church-based schools in Nigeria.

The more than 100 Holy Family sisters are temporarily homeless along with those to whom they ministered. Donations to help restore their buildings will be accepted at the Nov. 6 event.

Attendees are invited to meet Father Davis and Sister Sylvia at a reception following the forum.

The forum is one of a series of events sponsored by the Race & Reconciliation Dialogue Group and the Tri-Parish Black Saints Committee. For more information, call 412-683-0237.




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