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Fr. Graf Delivers Lecture at Central Library

January 28, 2020

Fr. William Graf, associate professor and chair of the Religious Studies Department at St. John Fisher College, will deliver the lecture, Racism in the Catholic Church in 19th Century America: a Case Study, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, in the Kate Gleason Auditorium of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (115 South Avenue).

William Graf

Graf, who is also a priest of the Diocese of Rochester, holds academic degrees in history, education, and theology and has extensive experience as a pastor. His life-long interest in history has framed his pastoral concerns for a commitment to social justice.

His lecture will explore how racism in the Catholic Church in the 19th century reflected the attitude of many Americans towards people of color. Slavery, the Civil War, and the Period of Reconstruction challenged people to reconcile their religious beliefs with their social behavior. With that background, the talk will address the life of an escaped slave whose father fought in the Civil War: his challenging journey to become the first African-American priest in the United States.