To help guide the diocese to seek and propose ways to effectively meet pastoral, social, and cultural issues relating to Catholics of African descent; and to strive for the evangelization of our faith communities, the unchurched, and the broader Church in order to promote unity, pride and understanding in the Church and Community.
Click here to see Today's Catholic Article featuring the Black Catholic Advisory Board
So expressed the fifteen people from the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend who attended the National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC) in Orlando, July 6-9, 2017, including: Rosemary Agwunche (Notre Dame student), Audrey Davis (Social Justice Ministries Coordinator, Diocese), Rebecca Ruvaculpa (ND Campus Ministry), Metrice Smith* (St. Mary's Parish--FW), James* and Wendy Summers* (St. Pius Parish), and several St. Augustine parishioners: Cheryl Ashe*, Francine Henley, Thomas Jenkins, Tonya Jones, Sarah and Naomi Randall, Br. Roy Smith, C.S.C*., as well as Annie* and Dcn. Mel Tardy* (asterisk designates member of Black Catholic Advisory Board of our diocese).
In 1889, since the U.S. had not ordained any discernible Black Catholic clergy, lay leaders (Daniel Rudd) convened a National Black Catholic Congress to discern and advocate the needs of Blacks to the Catholic Church. After several congresses and then a 50-year hiatus, NBCC was re-convened in 1987 in Washington D.C., and every five years hence in a select location. This year, NBCC convened over 2,200 people in Orlando, FL, just after the July 1-4, 2017 Convocation of U.S. Catholic leaders on missionary discipleship which itself had convened 3,000 people in the same facility.
The NBCC theme was "The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me: act justly, love goodness, and walk humbly with your God." There were amazing plenary speakers on this theme: Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, Bryan Stevenson, Bishop Edward Braxton, Fr. Maurice Emelu, and Dr. Tricia Bent-Goodley, as well as many inspiring workshop presenters. Topics included racism, evangelization, Bible Study, Black Lives Matter, Pope Francis, the criminal justice system, Black saints and holy people, domestic violence and addictions, intentional faith, prison ministry and prayer. There were also specific tracks (talks) for youth and for young adults.
The liturgies were very inspiring to witness and experience, with soulful music and row upon row of Black clergy participating. From our diocese, Deacon Mel Tardy served as deacon of the word at each of the NBCC masses, alongside the various bishops. He also served as our official diocesan delegate at the NBCC Pastoral Plan meetings. The plan (still drafting) aims to focus on addressing spirituality, racism and human dignity, evangelization (with an eye towards schools), vocations (not just clergy), youth and young adults, and leadership development.
The next National Black Catholic Congress will take place in July 2022, location TBD.
Immediately following the Congress, the annual Joint Conference of Black Catholic clergy, religious and seminarians was also held in Orlando (July 9-13). Over 100 attended, including (from our diocese) Br. Roy Smith, C.S.C., Deacon Mel Tardy and his wife Annie. Speakers included Fr. Lawrence Lucas of New York and Sr. Anita Baird of Chicago. During this Conference, Deacon Mel served as homilist for the opening mass and also was elected vice-president of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus. Br. Roy Smith is a past-president of the Caucus.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Mass at the Sankofa Day of Reflection held at St. Augustine Church on March 14 and spoke of the Strategic Plan for the Evangelization and Pastoral Care of Blacks in the diocese.
Laughter, African drums, dancers, joy, devotion, song, fellowship and liturgical celebration.
To read the full article by Kathleen Kershner in the National Black Catholic Congress site, please click here
The full statement follows:
Statement of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky
President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
June 10, 2015
Gathering here in the city of St. Louis, so near to Ferguson, and looking ahead to Baltimore in November, I cannot help but think of recent events that have taken place around our beloved country.We mourn those tragic events in which African Americans and others have lost their lives in altercations with law enforcement officials. These deaths have led to peaceful demonstrations, as well as violent conflicts in the streets of our cities. In every instance, our prayer for every community is that of our Lord in Saint John's Gospel, "that they all may be one."
Sadly, there is all too often an alienation of communities from those sworn to protect them. I respect the sacrifices made by police officers throughout the nation, who in their daily work are placed in harm's way.Let us pray that they suffer no harm as they carry out their duties, and that they always be guided in good and right action as they serve.We join our voices with civic and religious leaders in pledging to work for healing and reconciliation. Our efforts must address root causes of these conflicts. A violent, sorrowful history of racial injustice, accompanied by a lack of educational, employment and housing opportunities, has destroyed communities and broken down families, especially those who live in distressed urban communities. Confronted by these realities, the familiar words of Blessed Pope Paul VI still resonate and continue to call us to action in our day: if you want peace, work for justice.The Church has been present in these communities, active in education, health care and charities. Positive efforts are being made in collaboration with ecumenical and interfaith groups in communities where confrontations between individual citizens and law enforcement have taken place. Pope Francis calls each of us to work for a culture of encounter and has encouraged all people of good faith to reach out to those in their community and be truly welcoming of all.Let the rich cultural diversity of our local communities be woven together in charity, hospitality and service to one another, to join us together as sisters and brothers.
The 1979 U.S. Bishops' pastoral letter, "Brothers and Sisters to Us," named racial prejudice as a grave sin that denies the truth and meaning of the Incarnation of the Word of God in Jesus Christ.Unfortunately, the words of that letter still ring true: "Racism is an evil which endures in our society and in our Church." The bishops called for decisive action to eradicate racism from society and considerable progress has been made since 1979. However, more must be done. Let us again call upon our Catholic people to pray frequently in their homes and in their churches for the cause of peace and racial reconciliation.
Here we are in St. Louis where, in 1947, Cardinal Joseph Ritter, who died 48 years ago today, integrated Catholic schools well before the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. It shows that the Catholic Church can be at the forefront of promoting justice in racial tensions. It is time for us to do it again. I suggest five concrete ways in which the Catholic community can commit to ending racism and promoting peace, justice and respect for all persons:
1.Pray for peace and healing among all people.
2.Study the Word of God and the social teaching of the Church in order to gain a deeper appreciation of the dignity of all persons.
3.Make a sincere effort to encounter more fully people of different racial backgrounds with whom we live, work and minister.
4.Pursue ways in which Catholic parishes and neighborhoods can be truly welcoming of families of different racial and religious backgrounds.5.Get to know our local law enforcement officers. Let them know of our support and gratitude. And encourage young people to respect all legitimate authority.
Sadly, the present racial tension in the United States is not something new. It is the most recent manifestation of a relationship as old as the history of our nation, one marred by the tragedy of human slavery. Promoting peace and reconciliation is the only way forward. And we must constantly strive to achieve these goals, trusting in the Lord to lead and guide us, accompanied by his merciful love. May He help all of us to recognize the dignity inherent in every human being, for God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Spring General Assembly, Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz, race, Ferguson, Baltimore, St. Louis, Pope Francis, Cardinal Joseph Ritter, Brown vs. Board of Education, racial tensions, human dignity, slavery, peace, Pastoral Letter, Brothers and Sisters to Us, reconciliation, healing
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
June 18, 2015
The National Black Catholic Congress, Inc. (NBCC) stands in prayer and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina and the AME Church worldwide. The NBCC stands in prayer and solidarity with the city of Charleston and the state of South Carolina.
The NBCC honors the great significance that the Mother Emanuel AME Church has in the history of our nation. We recommit ourselves to work with all people of good will to be instruments of peace and workers for justice. We will continue to advocate for respect for the dignity of human life. These efforts must include honest dialogue about racism, its continued effects upon our nation, and action to overcome them.
About the NBCC: The National Black Catholic Congress, comprised of member organizations, represent African American Roman Catholics, working in collaboration with National Roman Catholic organizations. We commit ourselves to establishing an agenda for the evangelization of African Americans; and to improve the spiritual, mental, and physical conditions of African Americans, thereby committing ourselves to the freedom and growth of African Americans as full participants in church and society. For more information, see our website - http://nbccongress.org
Pray for our New Initiated Disciples
From left to right: Deacon Mel Tardy (RCIA instructor), Emmanuel and Amivi Gbologan (Godparents for Clarke Senade), Alice Hampton and her Godmother (Annie Tardy), Jeremiah Hampton and his Godfather (Thomas Jenkins), Fr. Len Collins, CSC (pastor), and Muhammad Henley and his Godmother Francine Henley.
The National Black Catholic Congress
Black Religious Communities
"Enrich Your Faith" - Archdiocese of New York
Black Catholic Ministry - Archdiocese of Detroit
Black Catholic Ministry - Archdiocese of Chicago