Dr. Albert Jordy “Al” Raboteau II will be laid to rest tomorrow morning at 10am ET in Princeton, New Jersey, at Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church, which he helped found in 1998.
The news was announced on Sunday by his daughter Emily, the day after his death from Lewy Body Dementia at the age of 78. He had been in hospice care since January.
A viewing will be held at the church tonight, September 23rd, from 6-9pm.
Tributes have poured in for Raboteau since his passing world, and from all corners. His landmark text “Save Religion” remains a tour de force of African-American studies—which Raboteau helped establish as a university discipline—and his influence on a number of religious movements also looms large.
His career flowered during the Black Catholic Movement, a multifaceted era between 1968 and the 1990s in which the spirit of Vatican II combined with the fire of Black Power to create a revolution in the US Catholic Church.
Raboteau’s emphasis on religious context in Black Studies, including the foundational history of Catholicism in both global and domestic Black history, served to invigorate Black Catholicism in a way rivaled by few others.
A Catholic himself from childhood, upon his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy toward the tail end of the Black Catholic Movement, Raboteau managed to effect a similar focus within US Orthodoxy, though perhaps to a less-heralded degree.
He did this all while maintaining an award-winning academic career, first at his alma mater of Yale and thereafter from 1982 to 2013 at Princeton University, his final career stop.
His former colleagues contributed to a reflection on his legacy published by Princeton on Wednesday, including comments from Drs. Eddie Glaude Jr., Judith Weisenfeld and Cornel West.
Likewise, the family is collecting video tributes until midnight Eastern today on his official memorial page.
The tributes will be used for tomorrow’s ceremony, which will be open to the public and livestreamed on the church’s Facebook page.
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).