This July has been busier than usual, with many good things happening, and more to come. In a coming post, I would like to share a few things with you to ask for your prayers and encourage you to keep looking for more information.

Presently I am in Maryland in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC for the National Black Catholic Congress. The theme for this 13th Congress which meets every 5 years is: Write the Vision – A Prophetic Call to Thrive. Approximately 2,700 people are in attendance, filled with energy and faith!

Much of the event centers around the work of Encounter – starting with Christ. One of the primary purposes of the Congress is to energize people in their faith in Jesus Christ. The Liturgies are quite energetic and uplifting! Renewing relationships with one another is also a primary goal, as numerous speakers have mentioned the Congress is like one big family reunion!

Another goal centers around Formation – with many great speakers on hand to inspire as well as to inform. All of this is aimed at sending these folks back out with renewed zeal for living out the mission; for putting their faith into Action, personally, in the Church, and in the world.

These participants have a keen awareness of the presence and faithfulness of God. This in turn allows them to place trust in God’s goodness – trust in God’s mercy and consolation.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, DC – our nation’s first Black Cardinal, spoke gave an Opening address as well presided and preached at Opening Mass Friday evening. Here are just a few highlights of his inspiring words: 

We are the Church that has been entrusted with the redemptive vision of the Lord. We are, in so many ways, Jesus’ vision of a people called into holiness. Sometimes that vision can be frightening. Sometimes it can be daunting. But it is always the treasure that we must share with all men and women.

He concluded his homily with these words:

Pope Francis wrote an encyclical that focuses on Jesus’ vision of universal harmony and friendship –Fratelli Tutti. He beckons all people to see one another through the eyes of a deep familial unity. Like Dr. King, and those holy men and women of color making their way through the labyrinth process of canonization, we are invited into a genuine friendship with God and deeper unity among ourselves and all other people. 

The Holy Father has taken the prophetic admonition ofHabakkuk to heart, and Pope Francis has written a vision of human unity and solidarity for our entire world to consider and to adopt. He serves as a visionary for human solidarity, and he invites all of humanity to share that vision that will bring true healing and lasting peace to our worldwide family.  May we all accept the challenge of following that vision into a more peaceful tomorrow.  And let it begin today. Amen.”

Another Keynote speaker was Dr. Omekongo Dibinga; International Speaker, Author, Poet. He had a powerful message rooted in the experience of people of color in our country. He had an incredibly inspirational message for people to take responsibility for their own life by ‘generous giving of self’, letting go of past hurts and forgiving, knowing they can overcome any and all obstacles, and win in every circumstance by being true to self and living their faith.

I have been inspired in my own encounter here these past few days! It has been joyful and educational to learn more about the experience of our Black Catholics, and I will be a better pastor for having spent time with them at this year’s Congress. I’m grateful for the contingent that attended from the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The event will conclude with an 8:30am Eucharistic Liturgy Sunday morning.