This Sunday in Bardstown, the Archdiocese of Louisville will honor a leader of the country’s Black Catholic movement in the 19th century.

An interpretive marker will be unveiled celebrating the legacy of Daniel Rudd, who was also a groundbreaking newspaper publisher.

Rudd was born in 1854 to enslaved parents just a short distance from Bardstown’s St. Joseph Church, (now the Basilica of St. Joseph), where his Catholic faith took root.  It eventually led him to establish the country’s first Black-owned and operated Catholic newspaper, The American Catholic Tribune, based in Cincinnati, and other publications.

Rudd also became a prominent leader in Catholic circles, according to Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz.

“He was instrumental, maybe the primary motivator, but certainly one of a very small group, who, in the late 1880s, gathered for what’s now called the National Black Catholic Congress,” Kurtz said.

The Josephites Archives

The 1889 gathering of the Colored Catholic Congress (now called the National Black Catholic Congress) in Washington, D.C.

Archbishop Kurtz and other church leaders, including Annette Turner, will celebrate Mass Sunday at St. Joseph and dedicate the marker to Daniel Rudd in the church cemetery, where he’s buried.

Turner is Director of Cultural Ministries for the archdiocese.

“He laid the foundation, he’s nationally known for his work,” Turner said.  “He is in fact—and I can’t say this enough—the father of the Black Catholic movement.  And so many of us are standing on his shoulders today.”

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz says during this time of reckoning on racial issues among many people and institutions, including the church, is an opportunity to honor Rudd and reintroduce him.

“There are ugly sins of the past and one of the best things we can do is raise up good heroes so that the future if bright. Not only do we speak against and act against acts of hatred, we also try to identify what has been called unconscious biases that rob people of opportunity.”

Daniel Rudd’s parents, who are also buried in the St. Joseph Cemetery, are getting their first stone markers, which will also be unveiled during Sunday’s ceremony.

Rick Howlett is WFPL's Broadcast Editor and also produces feature and general assignment radio stories.