June 5, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
I write to share with you important news about immediate steps the Archdiocese of Baltimore will be taking as we grapple with the deep anguish and racial tension we are currently witnessing locally and throughout our country. While these steps were being planned prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, the current crisis our country faces in the wake of the killing of George Floyd urgently demands that we move forward with these initiatives as quickly as possible.
Effective immediately, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs. Sherita Thomas as the new interim director for the Office of Black Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Sherita currently works for T. Rowe Price and is the former chairwoman of the archdiocesan Black Catholic Ministries board. She is the Global Associate Engagement Manager at T. Rowe Price where her experience includes key roles with the T. Rowe Price Foundation, Diversity and Inclusion, and Global Client and Investment departments. She recently completed her term as president of St. Agnes Home School Association and grew up attending St. Edward’s parish. She is currently a member of New All Saints Catholic Church.
Also effective immediately, the Archdiocese has retained the assistance of a team of consultants from the Udarta Consulting firm, who will work with Mrs. Thomas to implement the recommendations outlined in my second pastoral reflection on racism, “The Journey to Racial Justice: Repentance, Healing and Action.” The consultants include:
- Howard Ross, a nationally recognized expert on diversity and inclusion with significant experience in working in community-wide initiatives.
- John T. Butler, whose experience includes decades of ministry in the Catholic Church and national consultation on organizational and leadership development, diversity and inclusion.
- Dominic Perri, who has also worked extensively with national, diocesan and local Catholic institutions, and who brings a rich background in conducting interviews, focus groups and surveys that will be a key part of the listening necessary for this initiative.
We are grateful for the unique combination of experience and expertise these four people bring to this initiative. They will partner with the existing Archdiocesan Racism Workgroup comprised of members from throughout our local Church and community to help us read the signs of the times and listen deeply to our local and national needs. Informed by the diverse voices of our community, they will identify the Concrete Actions from the pastoral letter we can take to bring to life, such as:
- Organizing training and resources for conducting forums throughout our institutions to discuss and address the issue of racism;
- Examining the diversity of our institutions, including archdiocesan leadership, formation programs, clergy, parishes, schools and social service programs, and enhance efforts to further diversify our institutions where needed;
- Identifying and training leaders who represent the diverse racial and ethnic background of our local church and community; and
- Strengthening existing efforts to attract new members of the church and candidates for priesthood and religious life from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
In my homily for Pentecost Sunday, I asked the Holy Spirit to shake the foundation of our houses – “to shake us out of complacency over the pandemic of racism and to fill us with fiery determination to defeat this heresy and sin, and to do so with the truth and love of Christ, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”
May these efforts we begin today move us forward in new and sustained efforts to step forward on this sorely needed journey. Let us in a special way invoke the intercession of our beloved Mother Mary Lange that our journey together will bring us closer to the justice, unity, reconciliation and peace for which our hearts long.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore