BARDSTOWN, Ky. (AP) -- Three orders of nuns gathered to formally apologize for the use of slave labor by their predecessors in the early 1800s.
Black worshippers responded with forgiveness at the service in St. Joseph Church, which slaves helped build in 1819.
Nearly 400 people sang gospel songs and recited prayers of repentance. The event was sponsored by three predominantly white orders with Kentucky roots: the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Sisters of Loretto and Dominicans of St. Catharine.
''I cannot tell you what this service has done for me,'' said Martha Hickman, whose husband's forebears were slaves. ''It has strengthened my heart. My deceased ancestors are crying tears of joy in heaven today, and I'm sure yours are, too.''
The service was part of an effort by Catholic institutions worldwide this year to repent for the mistreatment of others.
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