February is a special month in the lives of Black Catholics, as we are called to reflect on our rich heritage and our awesome faith. This month commemorates our journey beset by struggles and illuminated by triumphs; it also begins the sacred journey of Lent. February is the month set aside to pay particular attention to the sacrifices and contributions made by Blacks to the fabric of America, indeed, the world. The Roman Catholic Church has also been greatly enriched by the faith and spirituality of those from the African Diaspora.
The Motherland and Africans played major roles in the Bible. Egypt was the cradle of Moses’ childhood. He also took a Midianite wife, Zipporah. Let us not forget the Queen of Sheba whose descendant is said to have brought The Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia along with a strong faith in the God of Israel. Again, there was Egypt that offered refuge to the Holy Family. It was Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus Christ carry His cross. The Bible mentions the Ethiopian eunuch in The Book of Acts.
The birth of Christianity was strengthened by those who dwelt in the caves of Egypt. Black Catholics are the inheritors of an ancient and awesome history. In the past, the Roman Catholic Church elected three Black popes: St. Victor, St. Militiades, and St. Gelasius. The Office for Black Catholics’ website illustrates the stories of a host of Black saints and martyrs. The Catholic Church honors two Black women in the month of February: Mother Elizabeth Clarisse Lange, OSP and St. Josephine Bakhita. Black Catholics in Chicago should be mindful that “The Father of Chicago,” Jean Baptiste DuSable was a Haitian Catholic who brought his faith to our shores. To learn more about Black Catholics past, present and future, please visit the Office for Black Catholics’ website at www.blackcatholicchicago.org.
Black history month has been celebrated in many ways within the Archdiocese of Chicago. There was the 32nd Annual African American Heritage Month Mass, where Catholic school students came together to celebrate their history and their faith. Various churches throughout the Archdiocese also took time to honor the contributions and spirituality of Blacks.
On February 20th, Bishop Joseph N. Perry and the Office for Black Catholics hosted an Evangelization Intensive at St. John De LaSalle Church. It was a joyful celebration of our devotion, faith and commitment to spreading the Good News of Jesus, and that the Catholic Church is an ancient and universal Church.
It is important to mention that The Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. For more information about this important milestone for Black Catholics in Chicago please visit our website.
The Office for Black Catholics is celebrating our 25th Anniversary. For more information about our five day celebration from October 24-31, please visit our website.