BALTIMORE — A funeral Mass was offered Nov. 23 at St. Peter Claver Church in West Baltimore for Beverly A. Carroll, a social justice advocate who spent her life raising her voice for African American Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the United States and the world.
Carroll, the founding director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Black Catholics, died Nov. 13. She was 75.
Bishop John H. Ricard, a former auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and current superior general of the Baltimore-based Josephites, celebrated the Mass for his friend. Carroll worked for many years with Ricard, who also is the retired bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
“She was a great advocate for the community, for the church, for African Americans in the church,” said Josephite Father Ray P. Bomberger, pastor of St. Peter Claver Parish, to which Carroll belonged her whole life.
“She was interested in the church, the people of the church, what was going on, (and) how we could do it better,” he said.
Bomberger praised Carroll’s devotion to her church, both in her home community and around the country, as well as her interest in education and social justice. Carroll was a lifelong parishioner of St. Peter Claver, where she served as a corporator and parish council member.
Carroll, he noted, was instrumental in the rebirth of the National Black Catholic Congress. Under the leadership of Ricard, the congress, which met five times in the late 19th century, was reactivated. It first met in 1987 and has continued to gather every five years.
One of the results of that first meeting, according to NBCC documents, was the formation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, of which Carroll served as founding director.
In addition, she served as a staff member to the Subcommittee for African American Affairs at the USCCB. Carroll also led a delegation of African American Catholic women to an international meeting of women in Johannesburg as well as participating in a conference held in Nigeria to implement the U.S. bishops’ document on solidarity with Africa.
Speaking at a 2005 event in Washington, Carroll joined other social justice advocates in noting that African American and Hispanic Catholics need a more institutionalized voice in the church’s social ministry.
“We have to find ways to get all voices around the table,” Carroll said, according to a report by Catholic News Service. “We can’t afford to have some persons outside and some persons in.”
Carroll, the daughter of James and Lillian Carroll, served for many years as chief staff officer in the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Office of Urban Vicar. She was chairwoman of the Father Charles A. Hall Cluster School Board and also served on the boards of Sandtown-Winchester Academy and the Bon Secours Medical Health system.
For her efforts, in 2012, the year she retired, she received the Martin Luther King Award from the Archdiocese of Baltimore as well as an honorary doctorate of humane letters from her alma mater, Siena College in Loudonville, New York. That year, she also received the Servant of Christ Award-Lifetime Achievement Honors from the National Black Catholic Congress XI.
A 1964 graduate of Baltimore’s Frederick Douglass High School, Carroll held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland.
Following a wake and funeral at St. Peter Claver, burial was held at King Memorial Park in Baltimore County.
Carroll is survived by her son Rudolph Weeks II, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Her son James Edward Carroll predeceased her.
During her funeral, Therese Wilson Favors, a longtime Catholic educator and former director of the Baltimore archdiocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministries, shared this description of Carroll from the Mass program: “Rooted in family life and bundled up in love Beverly was the Carroll family matriarch showering her family with love and wisdom.”
“She urged her family to value spiritual formation and academic achievement as healthy successful paths to the future,” Wilson Favors read. “Beverly encouraged her family to serve and help others in this journey of life. She integrated her life journey into their life journey.”
Among remembrances in the program were one by her son and one by her grandchildren.
“My mom was a wonderful teacher and provider. For her, family came first,” wrote Weeks. He recalled her tradition “at every birthday, every Thanksgiving and every Easter” to have a specially ordered and designed cake from the supermarket.
“Mom I am going to miss those family celebrations, but more than that I am going to miss YOU,” he added.
Her granddaughters said: “Words can’t express how much we are going to miss you. We wish we could have had a little more time with you. Life without you is not going to be easy, but we’re going to be OK because you taught us to trust God.”
“We thank you for your unconditional love. We thank you for teaching us the importance of love and family,” they added. “We will do our best to honor your legacy and love and live in a way that would have made you proud. We will forever hold our memories of you close to our hearts.”
Tilghman writes for the Catholic Review, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.