Ralph E. Moore Jr.

By Ralph E. Moore Jr.,
Special to the AFRO

The past 14 days have been good and bad in Baltimore City.

First the bad news:  a series of fires have been set at playgrounds around the city. Started by whom? And why?  Burning questions (pun intended) still surround the crimes. 

Children love the slides, the swings, seesaws and climbing things in these recreational oases in many of the neighborhoods.  So why would anyone destroy the joyful places of children? 

Are children doing it?  

Are adults? 

Are the fires accidental or intentional?  

Is smoking of any kind banned on playgrounds— are cookouts with grills allowed? Either way—it is both infuriating and insane.

There was a fire on a playground on the evening of Juneteenth, June 19, around Roland View and Springhill Avenues in Park Heights. The scene of the crime was the playground at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary-Middle School. Then, strangely, the next day there was a fire at the Wilbur H. Waters Park playground, which sustained some structural damage reported on June 20. The playground is located on Baker Street in Coppin Heights neighborhood of West Baltimore’s 21216 zip code. Last year some children reportedly set fire to the basketball court in that same playground— but these are not just two playground fires.  

There have been as many as six such fires over the past year.  They are all dangerous for children and destructive of the places where they play, hang out and can call their own space.  Who would do such a mean thing to the children?  

The arsonists-perpetrators must be found and brought to justice.  Somebody could get hurt.  With hope, it is just a matter of time before the fire starters are caught.

Mayor Brandon Scott recently announced at the ribbon cutting of a renovated playground in Solo Gibbs Park that the city government will renovate 26 city playgrounds in this town. It is part of the Rec Rollout initiative of the Department of Recreation and Parks. 

“Playgrounds are one of our biggest assets that provide our young people a place to fully grow into themselves, gather with their peers to keep active, build lasting friendships, feel a sense of belonging, and sharpen skills that will serve them for a lifetime,” said Mayor Scott, according to a statement. “Why would anyone in his or her right mind want to disrupt or destroy that? We have to find whoever is doing the fires and stop them immediately!”

Mother Mary Lange

Though it has been a rough week for some communities in Baltimore, it has been a good week for the Oblate Sisters of Providence and their foundress, Mother Mary Lange, as is clear from the OSP website:

“We, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, celebrate the great news that Pope Francis has declared Mother Mary Lange, our foundress, Venerable. Please continue to pray with us that the cause of Venerable Mary Lange continues to journey toward Sainthood! We invite you to continue this celebration at our July 2 Founders Day Mass, when we will celebrate 194 years of existence. The Mass is at noon [at Our Lady of Mount Providence Motherhouse] 701 Gun Road – Father Joe Muth will be the celebrant and homilist. To God be the glory!” 

The public is invited.

The Oblate Sisters of Providence have worked, and prayed hard for a very long time to attain sainthood for their foundress.

The Mother Lange Guild, a group of lay and religious persons, has also helped the efforts by praying, fundraising, speaking and writing to educate the public about Mother Lange. 

There are Guilds for all six African- American candidates for sainthood from the United States. And there are committees supporting Mother Lange all over the world. Sister Magdala Marie Gilbert, OSP is the Oblate Sisters’ president of the Mother Lange Guild.

The St. Ann Church initiative, started two years ago for expedited canonizations, is separate from the Sisters and the Guild.

Mother Lange has been dead for 141 years.  It is way past time that she and the other Black candidates proposed be acknowledged as full-fledged saints. There are no (as in zero) Black Catholic saints from the U.S., while there are 11 White U.S. saints. This can only be described with one word: shameful.

The Social Justice Committee of St. Ann Church is advocating assertively for the EXPEDITED canonizations of the first six Black Catholic saints from the U.S. 

Mother Lange, joyously, is one step closer. The initiative continues. The next intended stop for us is Vatican City in Rome.