To celebrate Black History Month, we’re highlighting ten Black Catholic women who provide a much-needed voice in the Church. Many of the women on our list serve on the board of Catholics United for Black Lives (CUBL), whose mission is to “help Catholics use Catholic social teaching to raise awareness and promote racial justice so that every Black life can flourish in our church and in our society.” We invite you to take some time this month to get to know these amazing women.
If you love Taylor Swift, Target runs, and your daily coffee, then you’ll love Marcia Lane-McGee. Marcia is co-host of the Plaid Skirts & Basic Black podcast and co-author of the Essence-recommended book Fat Luther, Slim Pickins, both focused on sharing about the experience of being Black and Catholic. Marcia also serves as a board member of the pro-life feminist organization New Wave Feminists, which advocates for a consistent ethic of life from conception to natural death. On top of all this, Marcia’s day job is as a family teacher for teenagers who are temporarily placed into group homes. And on a personal note, she shares about her experience as a birth mother with an open adoption and about her life as a single woman.
To enjoy Marcia’s infectious laugh, joy, and confidence, follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
Shannon Wimp Schmidt
Shannon Wimp Schmidt is also co-host of the Plaid Skirts & Basic Black podcast and co-author of Fat Luther, Slim Pickins. Shannon is a wife and mother of four who works in adult faith formation at her parish. Have you ever wondered about the weird words Catholics use or what heresy actually is? Shannon’s Instagram series on weird Church words and heresies provides short and simple explanations. As a biracial woman, Shannon reflects on what it means to be both Black and of Irish descent in how she relates to the world and vice versa.
To learn more about and from Shannon, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
Alessandra Harris is a wife, mom, and author of two novels: Everything She Lost and Blaming the Wind. Alessandra is co-founder of Black Catholic Messenger, an online publication for Black Catholics, written and shared by Black Catholics. She was also nominated by her parish to attend the Institute for Leadership in Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, a program of study, training, and formation to prepare lay people for leadership opportunities in their parishes. She “loves to encourage people by spreading the Good News, advocating for racial justice, and raising awareness about mental health.”
You can find Alessandra at her website, on Instagram, and on Twitter.
Chenele Shaw is a self-described “young adult trying to live her life for Christ, frequent her therapist, abolish the sin of racism, and eat all the cheese!” A former theology teacher and youth minister, Chenele is currently pursuing a degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. She also serves as the host of the Ave Spotlight podcast. As for her attempt to abolish racism, Chenele is the co-founder of the Before Gethesemane Initiative, an organization aiming to “shine the light of Catholic teaching on racism” while focusing on unity and healing from racism’s wounds.
For anecdotes about moving back in with her family and great new Spotify recommendations, check out Chenele on Instagram.
Justina Kopp is a stay-at-home mom of quadruplets turned graduate student in Marriage and Family Counseling. Justina shares her story on various podcasts, reflecting on the tragic loss of her father in the I-35W bridge collapse and the experience of a miscarriage followed by the surprise of her quadruplets. She has also spoken about her dangerous experience with the birth of her children as a Black woman and the larger systemic issues surrounding the maternal-mortality rate as it affects Black women in the US.
A fan of Starbucks and true crime podcasts, you can follow Justina on Instagram and Twitter to learn more about how to fight racism on the daily, as well as to check out her epic family Halloween costumes.
Regina Boyd is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Mental Health Counselor. She is the founder of Boyd Counseling Services, which provides therapy to clients who “are experiencing life changes, desire healthy emotional connection, and seek to develop problem solving strategies within their relationships.” Her practice helps clients with emotional intimacy, sex and romance, parenting, stress management, burnout, and anxiety, among other mental-health related topics. Regina is also a wife and mom who enjoys baking and listening to Mumford and Sons.
You can find Regina’s posts and her recent webinar on FemCatholic, and can learn more from her on Instagram.
Ogechi Akalegbere is a service coordinator, content creator, and certified personal trainer who also spends time as a community organizer, mentor, and competitive powerlifter. She loves to share about her Nigerian culture and the integration of faith and wellness. Ogechi recently won the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, which is given by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to a young adult “who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the U.S. through community-based solutions.” She also hosts the Tell Me, If You Can podcast, focused on telling “women’s stories of hope, transformation, and inspiration.”
You can learn more about Ogechi’s powerlifting and personal training on her fitness Instagram and in her webinar for FemCatholic. You can also follow Ogechi’s service and justice work on her website, Instagram, and Twitter.
Sr. Josephine Garrett, CSFN
Sr. Josephine Garrett is a religious sister with the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Tyler, TX. She serves as a licensed counselor in a grade school and in private practice, as well as a national speaker for youth and young adults. Sr. Josephine shares joyfully about her life as a nun and a counselor, and her passion for living faith authentically and living the Gospel daily. She offers thoughtful reflections on issues from poverty to racism to the pro-life movement.
To read Sr. Josephine’s fun anecdotes from her work with children and to witness her joy, follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
Gloria Purvis began her career in the world of finance before becoming a Catholic media personality. Gloria is a stay-at-home mom, podcast host, consultant, commentator, and national speaker on the sin of racism, a consistent life ethic, authentic freedom, and human dignity. She hosts the Gloria Purvis Podcast, featuring conversations on tough topics and hard questions for Catholics in the US. She was recently invited to serve as the inaugural Pastoral Fellow of the Notre Dame Office of Life and Human Dignity, a “new role designed to enhance the impact of pastoral leaders in the life of the Church,” specifically around racial justice.
Gloria has a gift for guiding hard discussions with grace and respect for all sides. To follow along with Gloria and her many projects, you can find her on Instagram and Twitter.
Claire Obenson is an architect with her own practice, St Clare of Assisi Architecture, in San Francisco. Claire grew up Catholic in a Cameroonian and Nigerian family, and came to study in the US at 17. While pursuing her architecture degree, she began to question her faith and became an atheist before reverting back to the Catholic Church. When not working at her practice, Claire loves to volunteer as a foster parent and spend time with friends.
You can find Claire and her designs on Instagram and Twitter.