Sister Gwynette Proctor, Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was raised in a large Catholic family in Baltimore City. Through their lives her parents showed their children what it meant to live the Gospel message. “My parents didn’t so much talk about their faith as live it with honesty and joy and they encouraged us to do the same. I believe their example paved the way to my answering the call to religious life.”
Graduating from college with dual degrees in science and physical education, she was a public high school teacher and volunteered at her parish, where she met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who eventually invited her to attend a Come and See Weekend to explore the possibility of religious life.
“I was hesitant, “ Sister Gwynette said. “I wondered what it would be like to live in community after living alone and wondered what it would be like to be an African-American woman in a religious community whose membership was predominantly white. I attended the weekend and experienced a welcoming spirit where the ups and downs of these and other questions were discussed respectfully and candidly. During that experience, I was introduced to Saint Julie Billiart’s story, which deeply connected with me. After a process of discernment, I entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1980.”
Over the years, Sister Gwynette served in a variety of ministries such as directing a soup kitchen, providing housing and job training to formerly homeless men and directing an education center that provided language, citizenship and job training services to our newest immigrants.
In her current ministry, Sister Gwynette’s responsibilities include working with the Black Catholic Community to promote the new Evangelization strategies, to develop and implement programs that are Afro-Centric focused and to develop and empower new leadership opportunities.
Sister Gwynette said, “I appreciate the welcome and encouragement from the pastors and people I serve. I am inspired by their commitment to their faith, their parishes and to the creation of a better future.”
She has always felt the prayerful support of her Sisters in Notre Dame de Namur. The financial support from the congregation helps to enhance her programs and an outreach that lifts up people feeling forgotten. “We are partners in the call to create systemic change that will bring about healing and hope.”
“It is both a blessing and a privilege to serve the disenfranchised, those living on the edges of our communities, people made poor in our society including ex- offenders re-entering our communities without education, a base of support and a job. I walked with our new immigrants as they struggled to learn English while they worked two to three jobs. Now, I serve the people of Baltimore and I continue to feel the companionship of Saint Julie, my sisters in Notre Dame and our good God as I walk the streets of Baltimore City.
I believe that each of these ministry experiences taught me valuable life lessons and laid a foundation that prepared me to effectively serve others in the ministries that followed. God is indeed good...all the time”.