Recognizing those who helped build the Church

Posted by Spalding Hurst

August 2, 2019

Pictured above, during the centennial year of 1912, former slaves who had worked and lived at Nazareth, along with their families, were invited to Nazareth to celebrate the congregation’s 100th anniversary.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s belief in the importance of recalling and recognizing their history of enslavement is reported as part of a New York Times opinion piece on Catholic institutions and their reckoning with owning slaves.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky, who owned 30 people at Emancipation, were among the first sisters to seek to make amends. They joined with two other orders — the Dominicans of Saint Catharine and the Sisters of Loretto — to host a prayer service in 2000 where they formally apologized for their slaveholding. In 2012, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth erected a monument at a cemetery where many of the enslaved people were buried. So far, they have identified three descendants of the people they once owned.

“Their contributions had been ignored,’’ said Sister Theresa Knabel, who researched the order’s history and reached out to descendants. ‘’We needed to know who they were, know their names, know their story and make them visible.”

Read the full story at The New York Times
Download the PDF here.


  1. Melvin Watson

    On behalf of my family, the Bevins who are named on the monument, I want thank you Sister Theresa.

  2. Davis, SCN

    I am grateful to all who came that day and am grateful now to relive thru this video that gathering, prayer service and experience of being with all there. May all people be blessed who worked and still work so hard to make our beautiful Nazareth KY what it is to today and is continuing into the future.

  3. Anna Marie Rhodes, SCN

    Gratitude, deep sorrow, praise-late but full-hearted!

  4. Dona Dickson Gallagher, scna

    My great privilege in life is to be associated with Nazareth since 1950 (thanks to my grandmother whose aunt came here in 1860). My wellspring. I have returned many times since graduating in 1954. I am to be buried here myself. My eternal gratitude to my Grandmother and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth!!

  5. Maria Brocato

    I believe we can be both grieved that we once had slaves and grateful that we are now sorry.


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