February 2-3, 2019

The recent incident during the March for Life in Washington, DC involving students of Covington Catholic High School, a native American, and the Black Hebrew Israelites is a teachable moment for all of us. Before the complexity of the situation was understood, there was a rush to judgment on the part of many to assign blame before the whole story was known. Assumptions were made and now apologies have been offered, but clearly real damage to people has been done. One obvious thing we can learn is to take the time needed to ascertain facts, and to be slow to judge and blame. 

But the incident also reveals that most of us carry a lot of assumptions about other people, other races and cultures within us, and sometimes these rise to the surface, and then our prejudices become clear to us and to others. Sometimes we tend to stereotype a person or culture or race and are prone to be favorable to what is most familiar or unfavorable to what is unfamiliar. The more we understand about each other, the more we can respect and appreciate the wonderful diversity of God’s creation. 

A week or so ago in this space I mentioned the US Bishops’ recent document Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love: A Pastoral Letter Against Racism. This is a timely pastoral letter, and worth your time, energy, and prayer. Unfortunately racism is still alive and well, and needs to be confronted. This is a good time to do an examination of conscience and to reflect on my attitudes and assumptions about cultural and racial differences. You can find the document online as usccb.org/racism. This week’s bulletin also has an insert with a brief summary and some reflection questions. 

February is Black History Month. In honor of that theme, the monitor in the Gathering Space will be displaying slides highlighting significant moments in Black Catholic History in the United States. There will also be some slides telling of the lives of some great Black Saints of the Church. 

This week, the Archdiocese also publicized a series of talks that will take place during 2019. Sacred Heart Major Seminary, the Office for Black Catholic Ministry of the Archdiocese, and Catholic parishes in Detroit are sponsoring a four-part speaker series on the New Evangelization in the African American community. The four talks will focus on religious issues touching the experience of Black Catholics in Detroit and Christ’s call to bring the power of the Gospel into the city. The goal of the series is to rally Black Catholics from the parishes of Detroit around the call of Archbishop Vigneron to be missionary disciples in the African American community. The seminary and the Office of Black Catholic Ministry want to support and encourage Catholics and parishes to answer the Archbishop’s call to unleash the Gospel in the neighborhoods and communities of Detroit. 

Three talks will be hosted at parishes serving the large African American community in Detroit. The series will culminate at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in honor of St. Peter Claver, whose feast day is September 9th. 

  1. February 2: Dr. Patricia Cooney-Hathaway on “Prayer: A Heart for Witness,” St. Augustine and St. Monica Catholic Church. 
  2. March 2: Dr. Mark Latkovic on “Catholic Social Teaching,” St. Charles Lwanga Catholic Church. 
  3. May 11: Dr. Michael McCallion on “Taking a Knee: A Catholic, Intercultural Perspective,” Corpus Christi Catholic Church. 

September 14: Dr. Daniel Keating and a panel of leaders of Detroit Christian communities on “Unleashing the Gospel in Our Neighborhoods,” Sacred Heart Major Seminary. 

Fr. Jeff