Priest continues work to get sainthood for founder of first Black Brooklyn diocese church

A parish in Bed-Stuy aims to continue the work of its founding priest and get him recognition as a supporter and fighter for racial justice.

Asha McKenzie and

News 12 Staff

Feb 12, 2024, 12:43 PM

Updated 105 days ago

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A parish in Bed-Stuy aims to continue the work of its founding priest and get him recognition as a supporter and fighter for racial justice.
On the outskirts of Bedford-Stuyvesant sits a small parish built in 1853, a space that holds proud roots in Black history. St. Peter Claver was the first church in the Diocese of Brooklyn to specifically serve African American Catholics. It was established in 1922 by Monsignor Bernard J. Quinn.
"Many of his brother priests didn't agree with him for what he was doing to really minister to the Black community. But he was a champion," says Father Alonzo Cox.
Monsignor Quinn is remembered as a strong ally during a time of racial tension in New York and the rest of the country. Along with founding St. Peter Claver Church, Quinn opened The Little Flower House of Providence, an orphanage for Black children on Long Island.
"He wanted that to be a place where Black families could go, where Black orphans can be," says Cox. "It was attacked by the KKK three times and Monsignor Quinn said to them - 'If you are going to burn this place down. You're going to burn me down with it.'"
Cox wants to continue the work started by late pastor Monsignor Paul Jervis to name Quinn a saint of the Catholic Church.
Monsignor Quinn's cause is now in Rome, but as they wait, they want to honor the legacy of the church and what it continues to stand for in modern time.


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