It astonishes us because we don’t realize how deeply slavery was embedded in our economy. Many of us view the Catholic Church as a Northern church or as an immigrant church. But the Catholic Church established its foothold in the South. And for more than a century, it relied on plantations and slave labor to help finance the livelihoods of its priests and nuns, and to support its schools and religious projects. Enslaved people helped to build the early Catholic Church and to fuel its expansion. But this is not something that we typically hear about at Mass, or in Sunday school, or in Catholic schools or in our history classes.  Enslaved people have largely been left out of the origin story that is traditionally told about the Catholic Church.