Black Catholic Congress attracts crowd

About 45 Catholics from the Archdiocese of Baltimore attending the 10th National Black Catholic Congress in Buffalo, N.Y., hope to boost evangelization and social justice on a parish and diocesan level.

Representing 14 parishes where congregations are predominantly black, the delegation traveling to Buffalo July 12 includes urban vicar Bishop Denis J. Madden, religious men and women, the laity and a significant number of youths, said Therese Wilson Favors, director of African American Ministries for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Research on eight areas identified by black Catholic leaders at the ninth congress in 2002 will be presented at this year’s assembly, which runs from July 12-15.

Those subjects are Africa, Catholic education, HIV and AIDS, parish life, racism, social justice, spirituality, and youth and young adults.

“There is a very engaging youth track with a number of workshops,” Ms. Favors said. “These breakthrough sessions include the topics Keeping Your Hustle Holy, Making MySpace God’s Space, When Players are Pray-ers, and Be You! Belong, Believe.”

The conference can trace its origin from the First Black Lay Catholic Congress in 1889, in which a delegation of black Catholic leaders met with President Grover Cleveland.

The congress met on a regular basis in different parts of the country until 1894, when the group met in Baltimore for its fifth assembly, until it was revived as the National Black Catholic Congress in 1987 in Washington.

The congress has met every five years since its late 1980s resumption.

The Oblate Sisters of Providence will have an exhibit of Mother Mary Lange – foundress of the first black Catholic religious order for women and a candidate for sainthood – during this congress and each Baltimore participant is expected to research the outreach ministries of evangelization, social justice and HIV/AIDS, Ms. Favors said.

“Congress participants will be asked to strongly support efforts that combat racism,” she said. “They will also be asked to address issues that will strengthen and maintain Catholic schools in our communities and stand in solidarity with countries of Africa.”

More than 2,000 are expected to converge on Buffalo for the 10th congress from across the U.S.

Baltimore urban vicars have attended each congress since its revival in 1987, but it will be the first for Bishop Madden, who assumed the post two years ago. He said it will give him an opportunity to further explore the issues faced in many of the predominately black city parishes.

“Each parish will design strategies to implement goals related to the (evangelization, social justice and HIV/AIDS) ministries,” Ms. Favors said. “I’m certain that Bishop Madden will count on our delegation to do the same in their parishes and within this archdiocese.”

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.