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Two African Americans to be ordained Catholic priests on May 28th

Two men will join the ranks of the nation's estimated 250 African-American priests when they are ordained this spring in Chicago and Atlanta, respectively.

Deacons Carl Gales, SVD (top) and Avery Daniel.

Two African-American Catholic seminarians are scheduled for ordination to the priesthood this spring, ending long droughts in their respective communities.

Deacons Carl Gales, SVD and Avery Daniel are to be ordained on Saturday, May 28th, having served in the transitional diaconate since last year.

Gales, a Phoenix native, will be ordained at 10am CT at Our Lady of Africa Catholic Church in Chicago, a historic parish formerly known as Holy Angels.

He announced the news on social media early last month.

OLA has been the site of Gales’ preaching and service since last fall, when he was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Chicago’s Black auxiliary bishop, Joseph Perry. The parish is presently administered by his religious order, the Society of the Divine Word, which has served numerous Black parishes in the US since the early 1900s.

The order was also a pioneer in domestic Black vocations, as the only order in history to open a school specifically for the training of African American priests—who for centuries had been barred from the nation’s seminaries.

The SVD institution, St Augustine Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, has since closed for studies and African-American vocations for the order (and in the country overall) have waned since the late 20th century.

Gales will be the first African American ordained for the Society in some time, and a Black alum of St Augustine's—Bishop Emeritus Curtis Guillory, SVD of Beaumont—will perform the ordination in Chicago.

The ceremony will be livestreamed on the OLA Facebook page as well as on YouTube.

Daniel, one of just two African-American seminarians for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, will be ordained at 10am ET at the Cathedral of Christ the King, where he was raised to the diaconate in early February 2021.

Prior to that ordination, Daniel completed studies in Rome which began in 2015. At the time of his departure overseas, the archdiocesan newspaper noted that he would likely be ordained a priest in June 2019—but this was followed by a roughly three-year delay.

Atlanta is said to be one of the Blackest dioceses in America, with an estimated 58,000 Black Catholics as of 2016. Each of the three African-American archbishops in history began their metropolitan service there, including the late Eugene Marino, SSJ and James Lyke, OFM, as well as the sitting archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory.

Daniel, who entered seminary during Gregory’s tenure in Atlanta, is likely the first African-American priest ordained in the archdiocese since Fr Desmond Drummer in 2014.

Daniel has served as chaplain at Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, Georgia since last July, and the school shared the news of his ordination on social media late last month.

His ordination will be livestreamed on Facebook, as well as on Vimeo.

Both Gales and Daniel are members of the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association, which was founded in 1970 to support African Americans studying for the priesthood and religious brotherhood.

As of 2022, there are estimated to be approximately three dozen such men in the United States.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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