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February is African American History Month

In February the nation celebrates African American History Month. Hurrah!

An often over looked group in this celebration are Black Catholics.

In 1889 African American Catholics gathered in Washington D.C. They met with then President Grover Cleveland at the White House to share their concerns both as Catholics and Negro citizens.

Since 1889 African American Catholics have gathered eleven times to engage the Catholic Church and the United States in prophetic conversation. Sharing the good news that God has a vision for Black lives in the United States and in the Catholic Church, this year marks the 13th National Black Catholic Congress. We will meet July 20-23rd in Harbor, Maryland. The theme of Congress XIII, is Write the Vision: A Prophetic Call to Thrive, Habakkuk 2:2-4. "Wakanda Forever" from the Marvel Movie, Black Panther, expresses a prophetic call to thrive for me and for many African Americans. Such a vision is necessary when one considers another movie that came out last year, "Till" the story of Mamie Till-Bradley, mother of 'lynched' 14 year old Emmitt Till (1955). Another vision of prophetic hope and uncommon faithfulness is depicted in the movie Devotion -'Right Stuff' naval aviator Jesse L. Brown, 1950.

The lives of Black folk in the Americas are a testimony and witness of heroic faith, hope and love. This heroic witness continues to compel America "to Be true to what you said on paper." So said Rev. ML King Jr. the night before his martyrdom April 3, 1968. The "paper" is the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

I invite all parishioners to take time in February, to grow in knowledge and understanding of the uncommon faithfulness and heroic hope and love demonstrated by their fellow African American and Catholic citizens. May we be inspired and hope filled by their authentically Amercian stories.

As part of our celebration of African American History, the Black Catholic Ministry of the Diocese of Camden is hosting an evening with ValLimar Jansen "inspirational/catechetical speaker, singer, composer and recording artist; leader of prayer and worship." This free event will take place Saturday February 4th. Information is in our bulletin. Peace,

Fr. Gerard.


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