Archdiocese hosts Black Catholic Congress

Audrey Calhoun, a parishioner of St. Augustine Church, received Communion from Father Edmund Ani, a visiting priest at St. Bernard Church in Clementsville, Ky., during the Archdiocese of Louisville’s third Black Catholic Congress held Dec. 13 at the Flaget Center. (Photo Special to The Record by Clinton Bennett)
Audrey Calhoun, a parishioner of St. Augustine Church, received Communion from Father Edmund Ani, a visiting priest at St. Bernard Church in Clementsville, Ky., during the Archdiocese of Louisville’s third Black Catholic Congress held Dec. 13 at the Flaget Center. (Photo Special to The Record by Clinton Bennett)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Nearly 350 people, including 75 young adults, attended the Archdiocese of Louisville’s third Black Catholic Congress Dec. 13 at the Flaget Center, 1935 Lewiston Drive.

The event was sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Ministry (OMM) and aimed to highlight “the new evangelization from an Africentric perspective while addressing the spiritual and human needs of the African diaspora,” an announcement from the OMM said.

The all-day event featured a number of workshops on topics such as spirituality, evangelization, ministering with youth and families, leadership development and vocations. There was also separate programming designed for youth.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz celebrated Mass for the congress participants and told those gathered at the congress they were called to attend for a reason.

“Christ needs those who are at this congress. We need African-American Catholics who do not boast of themselves but of the Lord,” he said in an interview following the congress.

Archbishop Kurtz noted that it has been 50 years since the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. A lot has been accomplished in the half of a century since, he said, but there is still more work to do.

He also spoke of the new Catholic Elementary School Plan, which was announced last November. The plan aims to make Catholic school education more accessible to families in need.

Representatives of parishes in West Louisville, where there are no Catholic schools, met with leaders from the archdiocese and the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) to give advice and input as the plan was being formed, M. Annette Mandley-Turner, executive director of the OMM, said in an interview following the congress.

Archdiocesan and CEF leaders plan to host a follow-up meeting in the West End later this month to discuss details of the plan’s financial options with parents who are interested in sending their children to Catholic schools, Turner said.

The archbishop also noted that the African-American community within the archdiocese has a long-standing — and important — tradition of calling forth capable leaders.

In order to prepare for the future of the black Catholic church, he said, leaders within the black community need to continue to call forth new individuals to take up leadership roles.

Turner said that based on the feedback she’s received, congress attendees felt a renewed sense of purpose.

“They left with a sense of ‘I still have gifts to share with the church,’ ” she said.

Other speakers included Redemptorist Father Maurice J. Nutt; Father John T. Judie; Dr. Kathlene Dorsey Bello, a liturgist and scholar in black spirituality; and Dr. Tyrone Powers, an author.

Several local delegates to the 2012 National Black Catholic Congress XI also spoke.

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