State Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-40), right, presents a senate citation to Archbishop William E. Lori, left, at the groundbreaking of the new Mother Mary Lange Catholic School in West Baltimore on Oct. 23, 2019.
The downtown Baltimore community that was promised a school decades ago will soon have that promise fulfilled by the Catholic Church.
After years of planning and engaging the community, the Archdiocese of Baltimore broke ground Oct. 23, 2019 on a new school in downtown Baltimore, just off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The Mother Mary Lange Catholic School will be the first Catholic elementary school built in Baltimore in more than six decades, and is the product of years of collaboration between the Archdiocese, the community, donors, and partners to turn the grassy field on West Lexington Street into a state-of-the-art Pre-K-to-grade-8 school.
"Like Mother Lange, we at the Archdiocese strive to create equity, equity and educational opportunity so that young people can realize the fullness of their God-given talents and potential," said Archbishop William E. Lori, archbishop of Baltimore and chairman of the Maryland Catholic Conference. "And so it is in her spirit that we are putting our determined efforts and our determined resources in service to the young people of our community by today breaking ground on the first Catholic elementary school in the City of Baltimore in some six decades."
The school's name-sake, Mother Mary Lange, was an African-Caribbean immigrant who founded in 1829 the first religious order in the United States for women of African descent: The Oblate Sisters of Providence. The Oblate Sisters of Providence remain active today and founded, and still operate today, the St. Frances Academy in Baltimore.
Archbishop William E. Lori (center) is joined by elected officials, partners and community leaders to break ground on the Mother Mary Lange Catholic School.
Baltimore became known nationally for the unrest that erupted there following the death of Freddie Gray when the deep racial inequalities of the community were thrust into the national spotlight.
Lori, who at the ceremony spoke of how he walked the streets of Baltimore four years ago following the worst days of unrest, said the burnt-out car became a symbol of a community that had enough of the status quo, enough of being marginalized, enough of being cast aside and being expected to settle for a certain life.
Experts cite educational opportunity as an important tool for breaking the cycle of poverty and violence that plagues communities like those in downtown Baltimore.
Quoting the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-7), who represented Baltimore City, both State Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-40) and City Council President Brandon M. Scott (D) highlighted the role the new school will play in fostering equity in Baltimore and removing barriers for future generations of Baltimore children: "Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see."
Hayes and Tisha Edwards — who is Director of the Office of Children and Family Success in the City of Baltimore, and who spoke on behalf of Baltimore Mayor Bernard "Jack" C. Young (D) — each presented Lori with a formal recognition of the event.
Students from Holy Angels Catholic School, Saints James and John Catholic School, and the surrounding community will attend the Mother Mary Lange school when it opens in the fall of 2021.
Of the 500 students expected to attend the school when it opens, an estimated 80 to 90 percent will receive tuition assistance.
Many of those students currently qualify for and receive BOOST Scholarship assistance through the State of Maryland. BOOST, an educational options program for low-income Maryland students enacted in 2016, is expected to play a large role in assisting students who will attend Mother Mary Lange School, in addition to the tuition assistance provided through the Archdiocese.
Read more about the school project HERE.