Archdiocesan director African-American Ministry reports from National Black Catholic Congress
The Rev. Mr. Royce Winters, Director of the African-American Ministry of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, is attending the National Black Catholic Congress in Indianapolis with 48 members of the archdiocese. This is a report he sent to the Catholic Telegraph on the Congress.
The Most Rev. Edward Braxton, Bishop of Belleville, Ill. presided at the Eucharistic Liturgy at the National Black Catholic Congress’ Thursday session. There were 11 concelebrating bishops including Cardinal Daniel Dinardi of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and as many as 60 priests including Rev. Len Wenke and Rev. Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S.
Bishop Braxton stirred the gathered community as he broke open the history of the National Black Congress with emphasis on Daniel Rudd and Father Augustus Tolton. He encouraged worshipers to be faithful citizens by participating and empowering others to participate in the democratic electoral process.
“As bishops and public speakers,” Bishop Braxton said, “we are very aware that what we say today may not be what we will hear tomorrow. So, I ask my fellow bishops to be witnesses of what I said today, and what I didn’t say today. What I did say is that I encourage you to pray, to investigate, to discern and to participate in the 2012 electoral process. For no matter who will be elected president of these United States, we will all know that it is God who is in charge.”
In an afternoon Panel Discussion entitled, Hispanic/Latino and African American bishops in whom the panelists were Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Bishop Gerald Barnes, Bishop Curtis Guillory, SVD, and Bishop Jaime Soto. They were asked to address the following question, “What gifts and challenges present themselves when ministering in African American and Hispanic/Latino communities?
In summary, they agreed that the people in all of these communities are seeking to follow Jesus, which is an impetus for growth. Also, present in these realities are signs of hope and tensions. They recognized that there is a power generated through the various lay movements. And, these movements have created space in the Church for ethnic communities to support themselves as they challenge the U.S. Catholic Church to embrace them as equals.
The Most Rev. John Ricard, SSJ, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahasee, greeted the 2,500-plus attendees in the opening ceremony Wednesday. They also received a vibrant welcome from the Most Rev. Christopher Coyne, SLD, Apostolic Administrator, Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
One of the great opening traditions for the National Black Catholic Congress is the “roll call” of each archdiocese/diocese from Indianapolis to Boston, from Richmond to New Orleans, from Cincinnati to Austin, and Chicago to San Francisco. As each archdiocese is called they attempt to out cheer the other.
The keynote speaker Rev. Reginald Whitt, OP, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota entitled his address, “The Challenge to Be A Catholic Today.” Rev. Whitt used a quote from Pope Benedict XI, “we must seek unity through plurality,” and a quote from U.S. African American Bishop’s Pastoral Letter, What We Have Seen and Heard, “we are authentically Black and Catholic.” Rev. Whitt gave an excellent presentation highlighting our need to teach our parishioners “What they know, they don’t already know, so that they can be equipped to share the Good News in our communities and in our world.
The Most Rev. Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, who read an Apostolic Greeting from Pope Benedict XI and presented by the U.S. Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, closed the morning session. Pope Benedict encouraged the gathered community to use the time for prayer and preparation for the Year of Faith.