Join us for the Mass of Blessing and Dedication of the Commemorative Plaques honoring the unknown enslaved men and women in cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington.
The Mass and Dedication will take place in the Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
On Feb. 3, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington will bless memorial markers honoring the unknown enslaved men, women and children who are buried in cemeteries which are now within the Archdiocese of Washington.
In November 2017 Cardinal Wuerl issued a pastoral letter, The Challenge of Racism Today, in which he called for unity among all people to confront the “persistent evil of racism.” As part of the archdiocese’s ongoing dialogue and reconciliation efforts to serve as witnesses to the unity of God’s family and to acknowledge the sin of enslavement in the Washington, D.C. region, the markers that honor the unnamed men, women and children who were enslaved and are buried will be installed at archdiocesan cemeteries after they are blessed.
The Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington presently consists of five major cemeteries and two minor cemeteries, as well as more than forty parish cemeteries. Founded in 1858, Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington is the only archdiocesan cemetery with known graves of enslaved peoples. The four other archdiocesan cemeteries were established after the abolition of slavery, but will also feature the markers to honor the unnamed enslaved of the region. A number of parish cemeteries in the archdiocese that date back to the time of the first settlers will also be able to place similar memorial markers on their properties.