Msgr. Quinn (1888-1940), who was an Irish-American, was known for his fight against racial injustice. He established the first parish for Black Catholics in the diocese, St. Peter Claver Church, Bedford-Stuyvesant, in 1922.
The man who convinced the Diocese of Brooklyn to establish St. Peter Claver Church, the first African-American church in the diocese, was also a man who waged a long battle for civil rights for his parishioners and the larger black community.
Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York, founded by Msgr. Bernard Quinn more than 90 years ago, is still going strong today. According to Corinne Hammons, president and CEO, the non-profit organization has expanded its services over the decades but has remained true to its original mission.
Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn (d. 1940) certainly knew the value of immigrants and the fact that all human beings are born in God’s image and likeness. The son of poor Irish immigrant parents (his father was a longshoreman), Msgr. Quinn saw the horrors of war up close when he was assigned as a chaplain for the 333rd Machine Gun Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army in the “War to end all wars,” that is, the First World War.
Msgr. Bernard Quinn is a perfect candidate for canonization. That’s what one repeatedly hears when talking to clergy and laypersons in the Diocese of Brooklyn advocating for sainthood for the late, great church pastor.
From humble beginnings in the parlors of dedicated laypeople, the diocese’s outreach to Black Catholics has become one of the largest and most vibrant ethnic ministries in the United States.