Just this past week I had the great joy of attending the National Black Catholic Congress in Orlando Florida. This Congress is held every five years and was founded over 100 years ago by Daniel Rudd. Rudd was born in Bardstown, Kentucky on August 7, 1854 to Catholic former slaves, and his ministry began 20 years after slavery. While Christianity was powerless against the rising tide of white supremacy, causing many denominations to split over race, Rudd rose above this pitiful Christian testimony to proclaim that the Catholic Church welcomed African Americans. Rudd began publishing the first black Catholic weekly, the American Catholic Tribune, in 1886 to share his message even though black literacy was low. Daniel Rudd’s paper, however, was but a precursor to his larger vision. In 1889, after traveling the country to preach to black Catholics, his efforts culminated in the first ever National Black Catholic Congress, held in Washington, D.C. "Gather them [black Catholics] and let them exchange views on questions affecting their race," Rudd said a year before the conference. "Then uniting on a course of action, behind which would stand the majestic church of Christ, they must inevitably become the bearer of their race."
This past week, 3,000 people from all over the United States gathered for this year’s National Black Catholic Congress. I was privileged to bring 63 representatives from the Diocese of Brooklyn to the Congress. We were the second largest diocese represented! This year’s theme was “Act justly, love goodness, and walk humbly with your God.” The keynote presenter was His Eminence, Peter Cardinal Turkson, who serves as the Prefect for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. His talk focused on how we can continue to preach the gospel of Christ as Black Catholics. He spoke to us on how we must always keep the mission of Christ alive in our hearts, by acting justly, loving our brothers and sisters with goodness and walking humbly with our God.
Along with the keynote there were various workshops and breakout sessions that were absolutely phenomenal! Over the next few weeks it is my intention to make available some of the notes and material that I took at the workshops that I attended. It was a week filled with music that lifted our minds, hearts, voices and yes our hands to Almighty God! To see the hundreds of black priests, sisters, brothers and bishops from all over the United States was for me an immense joy!
Over the next few weeks the National Black Catholic Congress will be uploading some of the highlights of the Congress on their website, which is www.nbccongress.org. I invite you to take a look at the website and enjoy some of the great talks and scenes from Congress.
This Tuesday I will be travelling to the Holy Land. I will have the great joy of being at the Mediterranean Sea, Cana, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Mount Tabor, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Emmaus. I promise to bring your prayers with me, particularly as I celebrate Mass on the tomb of which Our Lord was raised from the dead.
Have a great week,
Father Alonzo Cox