George Clements

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George Clements
Rev. George H. Clements.jpg
Fr. George H. Clements giving Holy Communion, 1973. Photo by John H. White.
Born George Harold Clements
(1932-01-26) January 26, 1932 (age 86)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Roman Catholic priest, activist
Years active 1957–present
Children Joey, Friday, Stewart, Saint Anthony[1]

George H. Clements is an American Roman Catholic priest who, in 1981, became the first Catholic priest in the Chicago area to adopt a child.[2] Through his founding of several programs, including "one church-one child", "one church-one addict", and "one church-one inmate", he brought greater recognition to social problems and encouraged the adoption of African-American children.[3] In June 1969, Father Clements became the first black pastor of Holy Angels Catholic Church on the South Side of Chicago.[4] He is also well known for his involvement in civil rights activities during a period that extended from the late 1960s to present.[4]

Early life[edit]

George Clements was born George Harold Clements in Chicago, Illinois on January 26, 1932 to Samuel George, a Chicago city auditor, and Aldonia (Peters) Clements.[5] He attended Corpus Christi Elementary School in Chicago, and graduated from Chicago's Quigley Academy Seminary in 1945.[5] He studied at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sacred Theology, and a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy.[5] Clements became an ordained priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 3, 1957.[5]

Chronological summary of accomplishments[edit]

  • 1945: Became the first black graduate of Quigley Academy Seminary in Chicago, Illinois.[5]
  • May 3, 1957: Ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Chicago, Illinois by Cardinal Samuel Stritch.[5]
  • 1960s: Marched on Selma, Alabama with Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.[5]
  • 1969 Became pastor of Holy Angels Church in Chicago, a position that he held until 1991.[5]
  • 1980: Originated the one church-one child program concept.[6]
  • 1981: Received approval from the Vatican to adopt the first of his four children, becoming the first Catholic priest in the Chicago area to do so.[6]
  • 1994: Started the one church-one addict program.[7]
  • 1999: Started the one church-one inmate program.[5]
  • May 4, 2007: Completed fiftieth year as a Roman Catholic priest.[8]

One church-one child[edit]

Clements started the One Church-One Child program locally in Chicago at Holy Angels Church in 1980.[9] Though the program was started locally in Chicago, it became a national effort in 1988.[9] The goal of the program was to use churches as a recruitment tool to find adoptive parents for African-American children, a demographic group that often has disproportionately long adoption waiting periods.[10]

One church-one addict[edit]

After retiring from Holy Angels, Clements moved to Washington, D.C. In 1994, Clements started a program known as "one church-one addict".[7] The goal of the program was to assist churches nationwide in helping recovering drug addicts through job counseling, spiritual consolation, and professional treatment.[7]

One church-one inmate[edit]

In 1999, Clements started a program called one church-one inmate, a collaborative effort to help prison inmates and their families. The program was designed to facilitate the transition of inmates from incarcerated life to a life as productive and "spiritually healed" law-abiding citizens.[11]

Popular culture[edit]

The Father Clements Story was produced as a television movie by NBC and starred actors Lou Gossett, Jr., Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and Carroll O'Connor. Gossett, Jr. played Father Clements, Warner played Clements' adopted son Joey, and O'Connor played Cardinal John Cody, the Archbishop of Chicago.[12]

Honors and legacy[edit]

  • 1977: Named priest of the year by the Association of Chicago Priests.[5]
  • 1982: North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) Award winner.[13]
  • 1987: Named an honorary chief by a Yoruba tribe in Nigeria.[5]
  • 1981: Received the Jason Award from Children's Square U.S.A. for his dedication to youth.
  • April 11, 2002: The Kentucky State Legislature passed a resolution HR 117A, a "RESOLUTION honoring Father George Clements for his tireless devotion to the human race and adjourning in his honor".
  • May 2007: Golden Jubilee marks Clements 50th year as a Roman Catholic priest. Celebrated at Hilton Chicago banquet and Jubilee Mass at Holy Angels Church Chicago.[8]


  1. ^ [1] Ritz, M.K. (2006, January 14). Priest to talk about adoption. Retrieved from
  2. ^ [2] Father george clements. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. ^ [3] Moe, B.A. (1998, June 1). Adoption: a reference handbook. Retrieved from,000+nationally&source=bl&ots=7ZB9F8bgC2&sig=ndgo1nnlCZS7nZ0z4dysFLznE2Y&hl=en&ei=Umw7TYvtN4bCsAPLgunNAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
  4. ^ a b [4] Richardson, J. (2003, April 23). The historymakers® video oral history interview with george clements. Retrieved from
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k [5] Connor, T. (n.d.). George clements: biography from Retrieved from
  6. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-01-23.  History: the father george clements story. (n.d.). Retrieved from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-01-23. 
  7. ^ a b c [6] Father clements starts 'one church, one addict' program. (1994, March 14). Retrieved from
  8. ^ a b [7] Porterfield, H. (2007, May 4). Fr. george clements marks 50 years as a priest. Retrieved from
  9. ^ a b [8] One church, one child adoption encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  10. ^ [9] Barnardo's ex-head says race issues threaten adoptions. (2011, January 22). Retrieved from
  11. ^ [10] Css begins 'one church one inmate' program. (1999, December 2). Retrieved from
  12. ^ [11] The father clements story (tv 1987). (n.d.). Retrieved from
  13. ^ [12] Previous nacac award winners. (n.d.). Retrieved from

External links[edit]