The Black Catholic Community: A Collective Community of Immigrants
Br. Tyrone Davis Speaks Out
By Brother Tyrone A. Davis, D.F.C., J.D.
Executive Director: Office of Black Ministry
Celebrating Black History Month & Catholic Charities
We are excited about this new, upcoming collaboration with Catholic Charities, on the occasion of our Annual Archdiocesan Black History Month Mass, which for us is traditionally celebrated on the 1st Sunday of February/Black History Month, because that Sunday is also the National Day of Prayer for the African American & African Family (founded in 1989 by Fr. Jim Goode, OFM, who ministers here in the Archdiocese of New York).
Ministerial Partners for 100 Years
Although Msgr. Sullivan and other Catholic Charities personnel have over the years participated in this annual celebration of Catholic faith and African culture (with Monsignor, as one of our usual, very faithful Concelebrants), this year we get to acknowledge and celebrate what has made us good ministerial partners over the years and how important Catholic Charities has been to our various communities over the past 100 years and how important Catholic Charities will be in the days and years ahead, as we work together in addressing the many challenges facing us all.
Standing for What We Believe
When we look at the readings for this Sunday, especially the first one from Isaiah, we see all these various aspects of our Feb. 5th celebration coming together and made more clearly. "Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked and do not turn your back on your own...Remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech...then light will rise from you in the darkness..." That's it! That's Catholic Charities...that's Office of Black Ministry...that's the ministry of our church–past, present and future! That's what we want to celebrate and acknowledge and commit ourselves to in the context of the Mass on the 5th – commit ourselves to "Providing Help & Creating Hope"...and "Standing for What We Believe In" (the theme for the National Day of Prayer for the Family.)
Black Catholic Community: A Collective Community of Immigrants
The reality of the Black Catholic Community here in the Archdiocese is that we are becoming more and more a collective community of immigrants--a great many of whom have been Catholic from birth, in their motherland. As with other immigrants in our city and Archdiocese, this has become a time of great anxiety for recent immigrants & their families...and great challenge for those of us who have "migrated" here (willingly or otherwise) not so recently. These are some of the challenges we want to acknowledge, pray about and commit ourselves to at Mass on the 5th – as we should be doing more often than that in our various churches throughout the Archdiocese. Because the Black Catholic Community is so very diverse, this Mass will be multilingual – reflecting so many of the languages spoken and prayed with by Black Catholics here – e.g. French, Creole, Akan, Igbo, Garifuna, Swahili, and English of course.
Share Your Bread with the Hungry
Sunday, Feb. 5th is also the last day of the "Feed Our Neighbors" Campaign and the scriptures call us to "Share your bread with the hungry." We want to try to make clear that obligation we share. In the Offertory, about 4 or 5 families from our various communities will bring forth baskets with non-perishables to be donated to the campaign and used in our local food pantries. These gifts will be brought up, in addition to the bread and wine, which will become the body & blood of our Lord, to feed us who are hungry spiritually!
All Are Welcome
One of the main things we ask of you is to spread the word and to let your colleagues, clients and others know that "ALL ARE WELCOME!"
Allow me to close with a thought that a great Catholic Haitian New Yorker, Ven. Pierre Toussaint (an immigrant slave), realized many, many years ago; that is the value of feeding his neighbors, caring for this sick & the dying (regardless of race or religion), housing the homeless and welcoming the stranger. The challenge for us today is to likewise realize that...and make some history of our own by responding charitably to one another!