It's Kindle Ninja's turn to host Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author:
When I started attending OLV the first thing I noticed was that all the high school aged children were going to St. Leo. I thought that was so odd. Why are they all going there? What was over there that brought all the children? I got my answer when I started the research for this book. I never met Fr. Roberge because he was gone by the time my family came to the parish, but I got to know him through the members because they never forgot him and they were sending their children to his new church assignment – St. Leo. Here is an excerpt that explains it all.
By the late 1940s, Cardinal Mooney had begun to think in terms of an integrated Church. He never condemned segregation, and he tolerated it from some of his parish schools. Chancery sympathies in the postwar years were leaning towards those priests who were interested in the “Negro Apostolate” and who were prepared to integrate their parishes and schools. Fr. Hubert Roberge, who came to St. Leo after leaving OLV, assumed correctly that he had Mooney’s full support in his efforts to make St. Leo a model of racial cooperation.
Blacks had been attending the church for a number of years when Roberge became pastor. St. Leo High School had been the first in Detroit to integrate, as far back as the late 1930s. They were using “quotas” back in those days. But in the ’50s there were still no black members in the various parish organizations.
Fr. Roberge set out to correct this imbalance. He integrated the ushers and the Altar Society. He appointed a black parishioner to the church committee, and lectured his congregation on the virtues of treating one another as spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ’s Mystical Body.
Cardinal Mooney, while pleased by the progress at St. Leo, was alarmed when he learned that Fr. Roberge made a public appeal in a 1954 article for an official statement from the American Bishops against racism and continued segregation in the Church. The work at St. Leo was supposed to have proceeded quietly and with an understanding that there would be no publicity.
Luckily, for OLV, Fr. Roberge was the right priest at the time since his appointment had come so quickly. However, after seven years he too was gone. When Fr. Roberge took up his assignment at St. Leo, the parents of Our Lady of Victory enrolled their teens in the high school there knowing they would be in good care. That was his legacy.
So while Fr. Roberge had been taken away from OLV, its members had not severed personal ties with him. The members felt that their children would be protected under his care.I finally learned what all the fuss was about because every parent’s teen was going to St. Leo High School. It was the weirdest thing I had ever seen. But I do understand it now. I never thought that one day I would find the answers. It’s amazing!
Question: What are your thoughts on what these parents did to protect their children?
Shirley Harris-Slaughter is a Michigan native. She was baptized into the Catholic faith with her family as a child and attended Our Lady of Victory School. Shirley lived the history growing up in this West Eight Mile Community and is uniquely qualified to write about it. She watched helplessly as her parish lost its history and identity. Her love of history has propelled her to write about Our Lady of Victory, and correct its omission from the pages of history.
She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Cleary University in Howell, Michigan. She is married to Langston and lives in Oak Park.
Shirley is now a proud member of the Rave Reviews Book Club!
SHIRLEY HARRIS-SLAUGHTER, AUTHOR
Genre: Biography; Narrative History
Twitter Handle: @sharrislaughter
To celebrate being the "SPOTLIGHT" Author for Rave Reviews Book Club, I am giving away an autographed, Limited Edition Hardcover Copy of “OUR LADY OF VICTORY: THE SAGA OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN CATHOLIC COMMUNITY.” All you need to do is visit my blog and leave a comment there, and stop by each leg of my tour with your comments, as well. The more stops you visit and the more you comment, the more chances you have to win. If you leave a comment on each day of my tour this week, then your name will be entered into my drawing 7 times which increases your chances of winning! (Only 1 comment allowed per stop/per day). The person whose name is pulled via a random draw, will be the winner. It’s that simple! Restricted to US residents only. Thanks again for the support and good luck in winning!!!