Black Catholic History Month

black_catholic_month“…the observance of Black Catholic history affords a precious opportunity to discover, honor and reflect upon the contributions, struggles, achievements and promise of being Black and Catholic.”

by Donna Toliver Grimes,
Assistant Director, African American Affairs

I have found that some of our most dedicated and knowledgeable leaders chose the Catholic faith as teens or adults.  I thank God for them!  Yet, contrary to popular belief, Catholicism is not a new phenomenon to the faithful of African descent.

Perhaps the Ethiopian Eunuch was the first or one of many Christians of African origin to joyfully proclaim the Pascal Mystery (Acts 8:26-39).  Not long before that official of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians was baptized, Simon of Cyrene (Libya) had a personal and life-changing encounter with Jesus on the road to Calvary (Matt 27:32).  Historians have indicated that the Evangelist Mark very likely was a Cyrenian Jew.  Similarly, Scripture is clear that God directed the Holy Family to take refuge in Egypt (Africa) to save the infant Jesus from the massacre of Jewish boys (Matt 2:13-15).  Scientists concluded years ago, that Africa is the birthplace of humanity.

Let’s not forget the numerous references in the Old Testament to the region of the world now referred to as Africa as well as, the presence of many peoples who dwelled in and around the Holy Land in antiquity.  We Black Catholics are more than descendants of enslaved people without faith or knowledge of God.  Rather, the children of Africa played an important role historically and continue to influence the Catholic journey today.

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