July 14, 2010.
Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn fought for racial equality at a time when it wasn't popular—even with some members of the Catholic Church.
Quinn founded Brooklyn's first church for black Catholics in 1922 with his diocese's support. He also founded its first orphanage for black children in 1928.
Quinn accomplished all this despite resistance to equality. Fellow New York priest Msgr. John L. Belford wrote in 1929, “negroes should be excluded from this Roman Catholic church if they become numerous.”
Quinn couldn't have disagreed more. He saw the growing black population in New York as an opportunity to increase the Church's outreach.
The church Quinn founded, Saint Peter Claver, still serves its community to this day. And the orphanage is now the headquarters for Little Flower Children and Family Services, which helps several surrounding communities.
Quinn began his work with the Brooklyn Diocese soon after ordination and worked as a chaplain in World War I. He strove for black equality until his death in 1940 at age 52. Estimates say that nearly 8,000 people attended his funeral service.
The Canonical inquiry into the Cause of Canonization for Quinn was officially opened June 24. So far the Diocese of Brooklyn has never had a saint to call its own—but those familiar with Quinn's story feel it's only a matter of time until that changes.