Black Catholics set priorities at National Congress

Written by Peter G. Sánchez 

Held every five years, the Congress drafted a Pastoral Plan of Action and challenged the over 2,000 delegates — clergy, religious and laity — to live out these principles in their own faith communities.

Black Catholics from all over the world affirmed their Catholic faith and shared their hopes and concerns for its future.

James Andrews (far right) director of Black Catholic Ministries for the diocese with Judge John Chatman of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S. at the National Black Catholic Congress in Orlando last month.

James Andrews, director of Black Catholic Ministries for the Diocese of Camden, was the delegate for South Jersey.

Andrews spent a lot of time in Orlando last month, in addition to his Congress responsibilities.

“I attended the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America; the Black Catholic Congress; and the gathering of the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators, which I am National President of,” he said.

Noting that both the Convocation and Congress were in the same location, Hyatt Regency, he said that wasn’t the events’ only commonality.

“The concerns and goals of the convocation are in sync with the Black Catholic Congress. Everyone wants a united church,” he said.

Father Gerard Marable, Pastor In Solidum and Moderator of Camden’s Sacred Heart Parish, presented a workshop on “Pastoring in African-American Parishes.”

The roots of the Black Catholic Congress stem from 1889 with layman and journalist Daniel Rudd, who brought together 100 black Catholic men to exchange and discuss questions affecting their race for not just black Catholics, but blacks across the country, and unite for a course of action while standing behind the Catholic Church and its values.

The group met with President Grover Cleveland during its first congress.

During his homily at the opening Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, Father Patrick Smith, pastor of Saint Augustine Parish in Washington, said in meeting and uniting, the Catholic Church demonstrated and voiced how “black Catholic lives mattered,” just as other groups have done as they convened when a group has suffered, such as with the pro-life groups who proclaim unborn lives matter.


Read in Catholic Star Herald