Thursday, August 8, 2019


SERVANT of GOD MONSIGNOR BERNARD JOHN QUINN a pioneer in what would today be considered “civil rights”, is being considered for canonization.  Investigations into his saintly life have been collected the past nine years and sent to Rome.

 Msgr. Bernard Quinn was born in Newark in 1888 on the same day that Pope Leo XIII canonized Peter Claver. (Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on that same day 41 years later.) As a newly ordained priest, he recognized that African American Catholics were neglected in the Diocese and he approached the late Bishop of Brooklyn, Charles Edward McDonnell, with his idea of starting an “apostolate to Blacks”. 

The Bishop refused his request; at the time, the United States was engaged in the First World War and the Bishop’s primary objective was to identify priests willing to serve as Chaplains in the Army. Father Quinn immediately volunteered and landed in France, shortly after his arrival the war concluded but Father Quinn stayed on to minister to the wounded.

He received permission from his army superior to visit the home of Thérèse, where he celebrated Mass on Jan. 2, 1919, the anniversary of her birth. He noted that the experience was ‘a very great privilege because I was the first priest to say Mass there.’” He would later name his children's services after her.

Upon his return from France, Father Quinn was granted permission to begin his apostolate to black Catholics. In 1922 he bought what was formerly a protestant church; the building was blessed and dedicated to St. Peter Claver on February 26, 1922. He would later go on to found Little Flower Children Services, to care for the increasing number of black children orphaned as a result of the Great Depression. Situated in Wading River, Long Island, Father Quinn and his collaborators heroically opposed the Ku Klux Klan who in two separate attacks had burned the orphanage to the ground.

Monsignor Bernard Quinn died on April 7, 1940 at the age of 52. He was buried from St. Peter Claver Church, where eight thousand people attended his funeral.

When his cause was officially opened in 2010 Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio the Canonical inquiry into the Cause of Canonization remarked,  “Almighty God blessed the Diocese of Brooklyn by sending Father Quinn to minister among us. 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

“As I was recovering from heart surgery last year” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, “Father Quinn seemed particularly present to me in prayer. I drew strength from his courage and resolved to redouble my efforts to participate in promoting his cause as a sign of the need for holy priests."

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mother Hildegard,

    Thank you for posting this article about our beloved "Father Quinn".
    He told his parishioners that he "would shed to the last drop my life's blood for the least among you".
    I am thankful for your post an St.Paul VI and his prayer to the Virgin Mary. Pope Paul was baptized on September 30th, 1897, the day of St. Therese's death.

    God bless you,
    Mary Jane Theresa