Thirty-six members of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s black Catholic community attended the National Black Catholic Congress XI in Indianapolis, July 18-21. Several shared their thoughts about their Catholic communities and the congress.
Sandra Melcher, All Saints Parish
What are some of the strengths within the black Catholic community? Our faith, perseverance and commitment to God and the Eucharist.
What are some of the challenges within the black Catholic community? Our toughest challenges are engaging youth to embrace our faith, achieving unity in our community, and reaching a consensus on the primary goals in our community.
Thoughts about the black Catholic community or the congress? The congress was uplifting and inspirational for me. We must be committed to applying the principles, values, and inspiration gained from attending the congress to our daily lives. This means that we must be vigilant and apply these principles to daily living and everything we do and experience. This includes the books we read, the movies we watch, and how we treat one another.
Annette Frink, Blessed Savior Parish
What are some of the strengths within the black Catholic community? Our spirituality. Our love of worship and how we worship. Our sense of community
What are some of the challenges within the black Catholic community? Lack of financial backing. Lack of good public schools. Lack of recognition and respect from our white Catholic leaders.
Valeria Spinner-Banks, Our Lady of Good Hope Parish
What are some of the strengths within the black Catholic community? Some of the biggest strengths are unity, spirituality, hope and faith.
What are some of the challenges within the black Catholic community? Some challenges are not being able to understand who we are as black Catholics, allowing us to worship as who we are, the archdiocese not giving us support, not enough black priests in our churches, the loss of our black Catholic community when the churches closed.
Tony Hicks, St. Martin de Porres Parish
What are some of the strengths within the black Catholic community? Seeing the (black) priests and the archbishops, just seeing them and knowing that there are clergy that are black. As a black person, we know what it’s like to deal with society in America, nothing negative, it’s just a reality…when you see “like” people and they’re implying the word of Christ to you, then you can buy into that just that much more.
What are some of the challenges within the black Catholic community? The toughest challenge within the black community now is, when you have a priest that is 60, 70 years old and he’s caucasian there’s a definite disconnect just based on generational thing… a younger priest can relate to younger people, he can kind of speak the language.
Thoughts about the black Catholic community or the congress? It was very spiritual. I can say it renewed my faith and it made me feel better about being Catholic and black. Growing up that way, I didn’t see a lot of that when I was younger and now that I’m older just to see the whole congress and what they’re trying to do, especially working with the youth.
Carl Carby, St. Francis of Assisi Parish
What are some of the biggest strengths within the black Catholic community? Some of the strengths of the black Catholic community is dedication to their faith and a sense of being. The community is very dedicated to whatever parish the parishioners belong to. Once they have found faith and a sense of being, that is where their roots reside. A sense of giving and making a difference. The community brings a richness which we want the younger generation to take a hold of in order to carry it into the next millennium. Our participation as lay people and ministers of Christ.
What are some of the challenges within the black Catholic community? Closing of black Catholic schools, the feeling of not being recognized or accepted by the last archbishop (Timothy Dolan). The feeling that we don’t have a voice or representative at the archdiocese for our community. The voice and office that we had was eliminated along with other groups and blended into the inter-cultural group. Not taking the community seriously enough. We seemed to be looked at as reactive a community. Being brought to the table so that our gifts can be appreciated and valued.