From Our Pastors
Memories are important and powerful aspects of our humanity that empower us to dare and grow as individuals. Sometimes when memories are vague, it can be like learning their reality for the first time. Yes, memories can also be cause for negativity and pain. Sometimes, it is remembering the past though, that helps us move forward. Today we invite you to share in some of the shared or corporate memories of our faith as our Church celebrates Black Catholic History Month, established in 1990.
Did you know that we have had three bishops of African descent serve in the Chair of Peter? The first was Pope Victor I who served from 189-199. He is best known for his efforts to standardize the celebration of Easter and his defense of the divinity of Jesus. The next was Pope Militades, an African who was elected Pope in 311 and served for nearly three years until his death. He was the Pope who signed the declaration that made Christianity legal in the Roman Empire. He also established The Lateran palace as the seat for the diocese of Rome, which continues to be the Cathedral of Rome to this day. The third is Pope Gelasius, born of African parents in Rome, he served from March of 492 until November of 496. He promoted the reception of the Eucharist under both forms, and was a prolific writer of hymns and prayers. Many of his letters survive, many of which argued for the primacy of the bishop of Rome.
Did you know that a little girl named Bertha, born into a Methodist family in Yazoo City Mississippi, would become a Roman Catholic at 9 after receiving her parent’s’ permission to do so? She grew into Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, and is now known as a Servant of God, on her way to canonization. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on St. Thomas More and taught for 16 years from grade schools through university settings. She then became a consultant to bishops and churches on racial and cultural awareness and inclusion. A gifted singer and preacher, she travelled the world and large parts of the US offering a ministry of joy. She urged Catholics to celebrate their cultural identities and retain their cultures but also to always reflect on the joy at being one in Christ. For her, “difference” was a reflection of the divine at work, not a basis to fear the other. She continued her evangelical mission, even after being debilitated by cancer, singing and preaching from a wheelchair. She entered eternal life March 30, 1990.
In an interview on 60 Minutes she said: “I think the difference between me and some people is that I am content to do my little bit. Sometimes people think they have to do big things in order to make change. But if each one would light a candle; we’d have a tremendous light.”
Honoring the legacy of persons of color from the earliest days of the faith until today, what might be the “little bit” we are called to do this week to serve our neighbor and to give glory to God?
Fr. Michael Callaghan, C.O. and Fr. Mark Lane, C.O.