Kenneth C. Stewart, First Black Catholic Pastor in Milwaukee, Dies at 83; Controversial Legacy Lingers

By | September 20, 2023

Kenneth C. Stewart, the first Black Catholic pastor in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, has passed away at the age of 83. Stewart, who was previously a Capuchin Franciscan priest, was later accused of child sex abuse and laicized.

Kenneth C. Stewart, the first Black Catholic pastor in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, passed away on September 20, 2023, at the age of 83. The news of his death was confirmed by the Black Catholic Messenger on Twitter.

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Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 7, 1940, Kenneth C. Stewart dedicated his life to the service of God and the Catholic Church. He entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order and was ordained as a priest, becoming a trailblazer in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as the first Black Catholic pastor. Stewart’s appointment to this significant position was a milestone in the Church’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity.

However, Stewart’s legacy was tarnished by allegations of child sex abuse, which emerged later in his life. As a result of these accusations, he was laicized, meaning he was removed from the clergy and stripped of his priestly privileges. Despite the serious nature of the allegations, it is important to note that Stewart maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings.

The cause of Kenneth C. Stewart’s death remains unknown at this time. No further details regarding the circumstances surrounding his passing have been made available. It is crucial to respect the privacy of the deceased and allow his family and loved ones the space they need to mourn their loss.

Stewart’s life and ministry were undoubtedly complex, marked by both achievements and controversy. As the first Black Catholic pastor in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, he paved the way for future generations of Black clergy, breaking down barriers and challenging long-held prejudices within the Church. However, the allegations of child sex abuse that surfaced in later years cast a shadow over his accomplishments and left a painful impact on those affected.

In the wake of his death, it is essential to remember that this news may evoke a range of emotions within the community. Some may feel a profound sense of loss for the man who broke barriers and inspired many, while others may grapple with the pain caused by the allegations against him.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee, along with the wider Catholic community, must continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of all individuals, particularly the most vulnerable among us. Instances of abuse, regardless of the perpetrator’s background, must be thoroughly investigated and addressed to ensure justice and healing for survivors.

As the details surrounding Kenneth C. Stewart’s death are unclear, it is crucial to approach the news with empathy and understanding for all those affected. May he rest in peace, and may those impacted by his life and ministry find solace and healing in the days to come..

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