(Nov. 18, 1933- Mar. 24, 2012). Born James Dwight Randolph Hardin in Louisville, Kentucky, Boniface Hardin entered St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana in 1946. As one of St. Meinrad’s first African American students, he completed high school, college, and seminary studies and was ordained a monk and priest in 1959.

Father Boniface Hardin (center) poses with Reverend F. Benjamin Davis (left) and Reverend Andrew J. Brown, 1971.
Credit: Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society

After serving as the assistant treasurer of St. Meinrad for six years, Father Hardin accepted the position of associate pastor at Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis in 1965. During his time at the church, he became a social activist who campaigned against police brutality, poverty, discrimination, and the construction of a segment of I-65 that threatened to divide the parish’s United Northwest Area neighborhood. In a dramatic episode in 1969, parishioners staged a walkout at Ss. Peter And Paul Cathedral on Easter Sunday to protest the decision of Archbishop Paul Clarence Schulte to return Father Hardin to St. Meinrad due to his radicalism. The protest was successful, and Hardin was reinstated at Holy Angels.

At the close of that same year, however, Father Hardin chose to leave parish work to create Martin Center. At the Martin Center, he and longtime collaborator Sister Jane Schilling created educational programs on racial understanding. The agency soon expanded to include the Sickle Cell Center (later known as the Martin Center-Sickle Cell Initiative) and the Afro-American Institute, which generated radio and TV shows, a journal, and a full program of educational offerings.

Father Boniface Hardin inspects art at a Martin Center College exhibition, 1983
Credit: Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society

In 1977, Father Hardin established Martin Center College to offer higher education opportunities to those previously excluded from college. Serving as president for 30 years, he oversaw the school’s transition to Martin University.

Father Hardin served on many community boards in Indianapolis and was awarded numerous honors during his career.

Revised March 2021
 

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