Sainthood cause for Brooklyn priest moves forward

The Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, has concluded a diocesan investigation into the life of Servant of God Monsignor Bernard John Quinn, a priest who “is best known for establishing the parish of St. Peter Claver, which was the first church for African American Catholics in Brooklyn,” said Msgr. Stuart Swetland on Morning Air®.

The first phase of his cause for canonization included a nine-year investigation into his life on the diocesan level. Now that the investigation is complete, the cause has been sent to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints and if accepted, will proceed from there.

“Now, this was a man who had to put up with a lot of persecution and rejection during his life. The parish he founded was not always accepted, even sadly by some of his fellow Catholics. There [were] arson attacks against it,” explained Msgr. Swetland.

“But he persevered through it all and did a lot at a time when it wasn’t popular in the United States to advance the cause of civil rights and also was a shining example to his brother priests about the need to work at the margins of society for those whose civil rights were not being respected and to minister to those.”

Miracles get all the attention in a sainthood cause, but much more goes into it than that, and the research that goes into the saint’s life and miracles is extensive. “Having been involved once in the study of a miracle attributed to the intercession of a potential saint, I can tell you the rigor with which these are examined is amazing. It well transcends even the kind of court proceedings that one might see on television, they really are trying to affirm this beyond any doubt, let alone reasonable doubt. That’s the kind of level that they need—they need moral certitude.”

“But before any of that happens, it begins locally. It begins with an examination of the life, of the history, of the fruits that that person’s life bore in being a follower of Christ. Jesus told us that by their fruits ye shall know them,” said Msgr. Swetland. This examination is carried out by the local diocese or congregation and compiles all of the documents and evidence to be sent to Rome.