Father Rollins Lambert, the first black ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago, died last Sunday at age 86.
A spokesperson with the Archdiocese on Tuesday said Lambert did not have any living relatives. Lambert died at Holy Family Villa, a retirement community in Palos Park, according to a press release from the Archdiocese.
Lambert was ordained in 1949 and that year became assistant pastor of St. Malachy Parish on the West Side, 2252 W. Washington. He spent eight years at St. Malachy before becoming pastor of St. Dorothy Parish on the South Side in 1957, serving four years there. He went on to pastor other churches on the South Side, including St. James Parish, 2942 S. Wabash, in 1968, becoming the first black priest to hold the position there.
Prior to that, in 1961, Lambert was assistant director at Calvert House at the University of Chicago. In 1975, he became an advisor on African Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, serving until 1987. He retired in 1991 while serving at St. Joseph Parish in Homewood.
Fr. Rollins E. Lambert was born in Chicago. His heritage was both black and Native American Cherokee. After attending the Chicago Public Schools, Lambert earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago. While there, he converted to Catholicism. He graduated from the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in 1949.
A memorial mass for Lambert is scheduled for 11 a.m., Saturday Feb. 14 at Holy Family Villa, 12220 S. Will-Cook Rd.