National Black Catholic Congress XI in Indianapolis draws 2,500
Hands were raised in prayer and gospel music echoed in a large ballroom at the J.W. Marriott Hotel July 19 as some 2,500 attendees from across the country gathered for the start of the National Black Catholic Congress XI in Indianapolis.
At the opening session, a roll call was taken of the dioceses that were represented, and each one stood up and cheered. One of those groups was from the Diocese of Charleston, which had 26 delegates along with parishioners from about 10 churches.
Sister Roberta Fulton, SSMN, Judge Arthur C. McFarland and Kathleen Merritt conducted two workshops on Catholic Education in the Black Community. Merritt also announced the establishment of the NBCC Catholic Education Foundation to the general assembly. She said its primary mission is to sustain Catholic education in and for the black community.
“Although the majority of African American students in Catholic schools are not Catholic, evangelization takes place in that school,” said Merritt, diocesan director of ethnic ministries.
At one time, the diocese had 10 schools in black communities, but now has only two. The foundation can help support these if needed, she said.
The congress was founded in 1889, and met several times until the late 1890s. It did not meet again until 1987 in Washington and has met every five years since then.
Dominican Father Reginald Whitt, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., gave the opening address.
He spoke about the early meetings and why black Catholics must respond to racism in the broader society, in the church, and for better education for their children.
“Some of those issues persist,” Father Whitt said. “Some assert themselves anew. And black Catholics must constantly and repeatedly confront them.” [more]