.- The Diocese of Brooklyn has officially opened the Cause of Canonization for Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn, a 20th century priest known for fighting bigotry and reaching out to the community's African American population.
Born in Newark in 1888, Msgr. Quinn later realized as a young priest that African American Catholics were being neglected in his diocese and sought the permission of the local bishop to begin an “apostolate to Blacks.”
After serving as an army chaplain in France during WWI, Msgr. Quinn returned and with diocesan support bought a former Protestant church in Brooklyn. The church was blessed and dedicated to St. Peter Claver on February 26, 1922.
In an effort to help children orphaned by the Great Depression, Msgr. Quinn also began Little Flower Children Services. He publicly opposed the Klu Klux Klan when they allegedly burned the orphanage to the ground on two separate occasions.
According to the Diocese of Brooklyn, when the priest died at the age of 52 in 1940, over 8,000 people attended his funeral.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the current Bishop of Brooklyn, recognized the saintly witness of Msgr. Quinn, and on June 24, 2010, he officially opened the diocesan phase of the cause for the canonization of the much-loved priest, during a Vespers service at St. Peter Claver parish.
“Almighty God blessed the Diocese of Brooklyn by sending Father Quinn to minister among us,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “That ministry did not end upon his death but has continued to grow and take root in the hearts and souls of the faithful and clergy of this church in New York, which has continually ministered to the poor and oppressed.”
“I am delighted to be given the privilege to preside at the opening of the cause of canonization for this priest who was a courageous and tireless proponent of the equality of all people,” he added.
After an examination of the priest's records, two miracles need to be attributed to him before verification is conducted by the Vatican. The final decision on whether or not to canonize Msgr. Quinn will be made by the Holy Father.