New York City Council member Mathieu Eugene has announced plans to name a section of street in Brooklyn after Venerable Pierre Toussaint.

The ceremony, announced by Eugene on Facebook, will occur this Sunday, April 25th, at the corner of Flatbush and Church avenues. Rather than a re-naming, the change will involve the addition of Toussaint's name to the latter thoroughfare, creating Pierre Toussaint Blvd.

The effort is in collaboration with the Brooklyn Diocese's Haitian immigrant outreach, as well as the Brooklyn chapter of Toussaint's sainthood guild.

It also follows similar actions in New Orleans, which are set to bring a number of Black Catholic street renamings to the Crescent City in the coming months.

Toussaint, who died in 1853, was a Haitian himself, brought to New York as a slave and later making a name for himself as a famous hairdresser and philanthropist—also taking the name "Toussaint" (a la Louverture) after gaining his freedom in 1807.

He is widely credited as the de facto founder of Catholic Charities New York, whose main office bears his portrait.

Brooklyn's neighboring NYC archdiocese holds an annual scholarship benefit named in his honor, which also functions as an awards ceremony for recipients of the Pierre Toussaint Medallion.

He was declared Venerable by Pope St. John Paul II in 1996 and re-interred in St. Patrick's Cathedral thereafter. (He remains the only layperson buried there.)

Eugene is also a Haitian-American, and the first Haitian-born member of the city council. He first took office in 2007 and was most recently re-elected in 2017. He is a practicing Catholic, and last summer put out a statement concerning the closing of Catholic schools in NYC.

This latest work on his part seems to underscore his commitment both to his heritage, to his faith, and to his city's history.

This weekend's event is set for 4pm CST, will be streamed live on Facebook, and is open to the public. Those interested in attending in-person can RSVP by contacting cmeugeneevents@gmail.com.


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