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The Subcommittee on African American Affairs e-newsletter is now available online. The December 2018 edition highlights what is going on at USCCB and beyond.

Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love - A Pastoral Letter Against Racism - Read the full text and check out the educational resources and parish resources that were created to accompany the pastoral letter against racism. Order your copy today!

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.

Plenty of Good Room:  This recent publication discusses the spirit and truth of African American Catholic Worship.

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!

Strength of a Vocation Book Cover Encountering Christ in Harmony Migrants and Refugees Deacons

African American Affairs


The Subcommittee on African American Affairs (SCAAA) 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.

Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry

Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Chicago
Vicar for Vicariate VI
Chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs

Subcommittee Members

3 Essential Ingredients for a Vibrant African American Catholic Ministry by Donna Grimes

Anchor Your Plan within a Plan - We all know the positive benefits of strategic planning. However, visibility and collaboration throughout the (arch)diocese are critical to a successful ministry for and with African Americans Catholics. This is not a time for private, standalone plans. The stakes are too high.

Situate your plan within the (arch)diocesan operational plan and the National Black Catholic Congress Plan. Ask yourself, what other diocesan offices are aware of your goals and activities? Then, be like the persistent widow (Lk 11:1-6). Is the Youth Coordinator aware of your initiatives to engage African American Catholic youth? Do you host Kajenga retreats or want to send young people to youth conferences? Are your catechists included in training days as participants and presenters? Are Africentric resources available for purchase or distribution at diocesan conferences? Being a part of the (arch)diocesan plan gives notice of coming attractions. Nevertheless, it’s important to cultivate the relationships needed to learn about other programs and advertise your own early.

Build a Structure Where People Can Gather - Few dioceses provide a central meeting place for African American Catholic ministry activities beyond some of the historically Black parishes. However, meeting at the Pastoral Center, Chancery Office or Cathedral puts a spotlight on your activities. Meeting there or at a multicultural parish may draw the 76% of Black Catholics who belong to shared or predominantly White parishes, along with some allies. When scheduling events for Black Catholic History Month, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King observances, retreats, leadership institutes and other initiatives, try branching out into new venues.

Also, consider building a structure that is organizational, rather than physical. Who is on your leadership team? Ask yourself, what competencies are missing? Does the team include all the expertise needed to reach your goals? Are your meetings productive?

Commit Culturally Competent Clergy - Petition for pastors, associates and deacons to serve in our parishes who respect, understand and love the people. Many clergy and religious who are not African American serve our community sincerely and well. At the same time, we take care not to exhaust those who are African American. This is a time for working together across cultural lines and for developing new and emerging leaders. Ask yourself, who from my community has the qualities needed for pastoral ministry with young adults, troubled families, new members or outreach ministry?

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