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The Subcommittee on African American Affairs e-newsletter is now available online. The January edition highlights what is going on at USCCB and beyond.
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!
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.
Bishop, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs
May your creed be for you a mirror. Look at yourself in it to see if you believe everything you say you believe. And rejoice in your faith each day. – St. Augustine
Let us give thanks for Lent, for another holy season in which God draws us closer. At this very time, we are driven by the Spirit into the desert. There we may be transformed by diving into Scripture, extending time in prayer and committing acts of piety and kindness.
In times like these persons who are poor and vulnerable, those stretching meager resources and others hanging onto a prayer for survival are finding gaping holes in the social safety net. Today we are threatened with proposals to reduce Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security which benefit seniors, children and persons with disabilities. Some policy makers would eliminate Meals on Wheels that feed home-bound citizens. They put forth proposals to diminish nutrition support for low income families which would not only reduce the amount grocery money received but would further restrict healthy options and substitute non-perishables and cereal for cash assistance.
Recently, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would gut the Americans with Disabilities Act. As in the times when levees were breached in Louisiana and Mississippi to flood the homesteads of poor and working class African Americans, the municipal water supply poisoned residents of Flint Michigan. These are times when the flood gates of greed are opened wide to destroy public education, labor unions, consumer protections, clean air and public space. These are times when an insidious culture of exclusion promotes gentrification while eliminating affordable housing, when employment that pays a living wage with necessary benefits is scarce. In short, there are aggressive attacks on every public initiative to assist people in living with dignity.
In times like these, what can African American Catholics do to release the captives? As leaders, we have access to decision-makers within the Church and in our community. As people of faith our Catholic faith and Black Catholic spirituality strengthened us. We stand in the resilience of our ancestors who endured enslavement, countless indignities and seemingly insurmountable hardships.
"Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our people sighed."
We survived to see better days, to raise more generations and aspire to new visions. Yet, where do we go from here? This Lent, as we grow in personal piety let us also strive to pray, fast, give, act and hope for our Brothers and Sisters living on the margins. Give your time, talent and financial resources to initiatives that heal, restore and build community. Likewise, consider whether programs emanating from your office aim to accomplish those same goals? How is African American Catholic Ministry meeting local needs – both spiritually and materially? Identify strong partners. Who can you collaborate with to strengthen ministry with families, youth, young adults and seniors? How might the Church at the local (diocesan) level connect with African Americans who are single or single again? Pledge to make a difference in a specific area of concern. What need has God placed on your heart?
You may recall the story of Queen Esther who fasted and prayed for the fortitude and favor needed to intercede with King Xerxes on behalf of her people. As Mordecai the Jew said to Esther, "Maybe it was for such a time as this that you were made queen (Esther 4:14)." Likewise, perhaps it was for such a time as this that God placed you and I in position to help our people – "to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord (Luke 4:18-19)."
Here are two aids on
fasting that can give more purpose to your Lenten sacrifice:
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