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Gone Home: Black Catholic transitions in 2020

Remembering Black Catholic leaders who passed in 2020.

This year was a tough year of loss for virtually everyone, and in particular for Black Catholics. Even if we did not lose someone we knew personally, we lost many figures of import to our movement, and we also mourn with the world as the collective loss of life continues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


Fr Chester Smith, SVD, co-founder of Bowman-Francis Ministry and the National Black Catholic Men's Conference.


Bishop George Murry, SJ, first Black American Jesuit bishop.

File:Bishop George Murry (headshot).jpg
Image courtesy Tim Evanson.

Fr Charles Green, public school integrator.

CS photo/Andrew Biraj


Kobe Bryant, NBA star and media mogul.

Image by Celeste Lecaroz

John Thompson, Jr., Georgetown coach and mentor.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration


Sister Mary Reginald Gerdes, principal of Saint Frances Academy.

Sister Mary Reginald Gerdes made St. Frances Academy coeducational.
GARRETT/Check with Baltimore Sun Photo

Clida Ellison, lector, catechist, and mother of the first Muslim in Congress.

Kirk Gaddy, principal of Saint Frances Academy and academic director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies.

Image courtesy of Wylie Funeral Homes.

Thelma M. Robinston, Richmond public school official.

Fueled by a love of education, Thelma Mealy Robinson rose from teacher to principal to assistant superintendent during a career ...

Idell Pugh, parish integrator and HBCU official.

Tom Wilson, Jr., Detroit activist and advocate.



Dr. Lionel Desbordes, longtime obstetrician.

Dr. Lionel Desbordes is estimated to have delivered more than 20,000 babies.

Al Thierry, first city department director in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Thomas' story

Carl Brewer, first Black mayor of Wichita.


George Lovelace, first Black state representative for Northern Virginia since Reconstruction.

Frank E. Gilbert, Esq., founding member of Jack and Jill.

Frank E. Gilbert, Esq.
Courtesy of the Gilbert Family.

Willie Belton, recipient of Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and was the first African-American to seek state office in his district.

David J. Wall, longtime Richmond supervisor.

David Jerome Wall was known as “The Professor” in the Richmond Department of Public Works because of his knowledge of ...

Vernon "Tim" Conway, Civil Rights (and early Black Power) activist.

Vernon 'Tim' Conway, active in the civil rights movement and city liquor  inspector, dies - Baltimore Sun


Ellis Marsalis, Jr., jazz artist and teacher.

Tyler Kaufman/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Lauretta Dorsey Young, opera singer and educator.

Lauretta Dorsey Young, former opera singer and longtime voice teacher at  Baltimore School for the Arts, dies - Baltimore Sun

#GivingTuesday and beyond: