The National Black Sisters’ Conference was founded in 1968 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania under the inspiration and direction of then Sister Martin de Porres Grey, RSM (now Patricia Grey, Ph.D.) and with the generous support and hospitality of the Most Reverend John J. Wright, Bishop of Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Sisters of Mercy.
Sister Martin de Porres was the only woman religious to attend the first National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus (NBCCC) held in Detroit in April 1968. Inspired and encouraged by the vision of African American Catholic priests, she left the Caucus with a heightened awareness of the pressing demand for black religious to address themselves to the urgent need for the Catholic Church in America to develop greater relevancy for black folk, or to risk losing its credibility as a manifestation of Christian unity.
The Holy Spirit moved Sr. Martin de Porres to call all black religious women to share in a task, which would be done only by Black religious women acting together, fully free, and joyously for the coming of the kingdom.
At that first, now historic, meeting in the summer of 1968 over 150 Black Catholic women religious from 79 different national and international congregations, gathered on the grounds of Carlow College. Sister Martin de Porres was elected to serve as president. A board of directors was elected and plans for legal incorporation of the National Black Sisters’ Conference were made.
Today, NBSC is a national organization of more than 150 Black Catholic women religious and associates in the United States striving to promote a positive self-image among us and our people. Together, they form a strong and cohesive voice in support of the dignity and rights of women of color, in creating mentoring and support systems for Black women in religious formation, in educating the African American family, and in confronting the sin of racism, which continues to permeate our society and
Church as they work tirelessly for the liberation of African American people.
Sister Patty Ralph SSJ attended the conference this year and shares her experience. “The last week in July, I had the opportunity to attend the Joint Conference (National Black Sisters' Conference, National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, National Black Catholic Seminarians Association, and National Association Black Catholic Deacons and their wives) Held at Notre Dame University in South Bend. Truly a beautiful experience. We met as ONE and had our own separate group meetings.
This year the National Black Sisters' Conference had elections. I just wanted to share with you that I was elected to serve on the board. I am excited about the opportunity but also have a strong willingness to serve. Please keep us in prayer. Blessings!”