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Subcommittee on African American Affairs e-newsletter: is now available online. The October/November edition includes information about Rebuilding the Bridge, Best Practices, Black Catholic History Month in November and much more!

50th Anniversary Initiative - Rebuilding the Bridge: In the coming year, the country will celebrate several 50th anniversaries of civil rights milestones. Check out the 50th Anniversary Initiative page for more information about these events and the contribution of Catholics to this movement.

Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself:  We are pleased to present excerpts from Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself: U.S. Catholic Bishops Speak Against Racism. These short essays from several bishops articulate the perspectives of different cultural groups, address racism as a whole and provide suggestions to combat racism.

30th Anniversary of What We Have Seen and Heard: Take a look at the Black Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Evangelization to see what the bishops were saying and how it is still relevant today. Now available in Spanish!


African American


The Subcommittee on African American Affairs is the official voice of the African American Catholic community. The subcommittee attends to the needs and aspirations of African American Catholics regarding issues of pastoral ministry, evangelization, social justice, worship, development of leaders and other areas of concern. The subcommittee also seeks to be a resource for the all Bishops and the entire Catholic Church in the United States. It aims to articulate the socio-cultural dimension of the African American Catholic community and identify or create resources that would allow for an authentic integration of the richness of African American Catholic culture and the Catholic Church in the United States.

Subcommittee Members


Most Reverend Shelton J. Fabre,

Bishop, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs

Fall Message in Ordinary Time from the Assistant Director, African American Affairs

"There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for everything under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Some of us are of an age to remember the 1965 Byrds’ rock version of this text.  If not, it can be googled.  “To everything – turn, turn, turn – there is a season – turn, turn, turn; and a time for every purpose under heaven…

"...we must hold onto the hope that God has a purpose and a plan for us personally and as community."

It’s difficult for me to read the Scripture passage without that melody in my head.  Yet more significantly, Ecclesiastes – a wisdom book of the Old Testament, highlights the changing seasons in our lives that mirror seasonal changes in our physical and spiritual world.  This reality pertains to our ministry for and with Black Catholics, as well.  Even as we face Ferguson, more  war in the Middle East, e-bola, closure of Catholic schools in our community, attempts to restrict voting rights and myriad other challenges, we must hold onto the hope that God has a purpose and a plan for us personally and as community. 

Today as we find ourselves re-litigating the accomplishments of the past, the words of the teacher ring true:  “What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done.  Nothing is new under the sun.  Even the thing of which we say, ‘See, this is new!’ has already existed in the ages that preceded us.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)

Whether or not we have a clear view of where God is leading us, we trust that the destination is good; and it is exactly where we need to be at this time.  Blessed assurance, God has a time for every purpose under heaven.

Donna Toliver Grimes
USCCB Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church
Assistant Director, African American Affairs

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