Black Catholics spend day in reflection

Members of the choir sang The Lord’s Prayer during an opening Mass for the 32nd annual African American Catholic Day of Reflection Sept. 12 at St. Martin de Porres Church, 3112 W. Broadway. The day continued with workshops next door at the Catholic Enrichment Center, 3146 W. Broadway. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)
Members of the choir sang The Lord’s Prayer during an opening Mass for the 32nd annual African American Catholic Day of Reflection Sept. 12 at St. Martin de Porres Church, 3112 W. Broadway. The day continued with workshops next door at the Catholic Enrichment Center, 3146 W. Broadway. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer

For the past three decades, black Catholics have set aside a day to reflect on their faith. Continuing that tradition on Sept. 12, more than 200 people from parishes all over the Archdiocese of Louisville gathered at the Catholic Enrichment Center (CEC) 3146 W. Broadway.

The theme for the 32nd annual African American Catholic Day of Reflection was “Here I Am, Send Me.” The day offered workshops on a variety of topics and opportunities for prayer.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz opened the day by celebrating Mass at St. Martin de Porres Church at 3112 W. Broadway, next door to the CEC.

The archbishop began his homily by speaking to the young people in attendance and telling them he rejoiced in their presence.

“You’re the leaders,” he said to his young listeners.

Using the second reading from Luke 6:43-49 to illustrate his point, the archbishop said, “By your fruit, like the tree, you will be known. If it’s good fruit, then it’s a good tree. If it’s not good fruit, then it means we’re in the process of conversion. We’re not perfect,” he said. “The young people need to hear this.”

The archbishop told to the congregation that they are a family and families encounter difficulties. Instead of hiding from the truth that those difficulties present, he said, it’s best to face them together “humbly with love.”

Loueva Moss, a member of Christ the King Church who attended the first day of reflection 32 years ago, said she could relate to the archbishop’s message about imperfections and conversion.

Opportunities to gather for “faith building” are essential, she said, noting that she sees the annual event as part of a “conversion process.”

“Accepting the fact that we’re not perfect opens one up to understanding that faith formation is a lifelong journey,” she said. “We take our cars for tune ups, we weed our flower gardens, we fertilize our grass. So is true with our faith.

“We need to nurture our faith in order to become better servants and kingdom builders for the Lord,” Moss said.

Archbishop Kurtz also spoke about the importance of making choices on their faith journey and referred to a book, “The Road to Character” written by David Brooks, in which the author said people have a choice to live their lives by “résumé virtues” or “eulogy virtues.”

“Résumé virtues,” the archbishop explained, are those that help one “get ahead” in life, make money and bring fame. “Eulogy virtues,” he said, are the things we want people to remember about us when we die.

The day of reflection centers on this choice, Archbishop Kurtz said. “What are the things Jesus would be proud to see in your life?” he asked.

Archbishop Kurtz also addressed the need to work for racial harmony.

“You know better than I do the challenges before us,” he said, recalling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that people be judged on the content of their character rather than on the color of their skin.

Two of the day’s workshops — “Black Lives Matter” and “We Can Change Things” — centered on what can be done in the wake of the recent shootings of young black men by police.

Young participants had the opportunity to attend a workshop called “Black Lives Matter,” led by Father Sidney Speaks, a priest from the Archdiocese of Washington.

Father Speaks spoke about shootings of young black men by police officers and how the power to make choices — given to men and women at the time of creation — played a role in those recent incidents.

Many of the adults listened to Deacon Kenny Bell’s presentation, “We Can Change Things.” Deacon Bell, who is a 20-year veteran of the Louisville Metro Police Department, discussed ways parents can educate their children about responding in an appropriate manner if they have an encounter with law enforcement officers.

“I want our kids to know what they should and shouldn’t do,” said Deacon Bell. “I also want them to know what police officers should and shouldn’t do.”

The day concluded with a closing prayer service at St. Martin de Porres.

The event was organized by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry and sponsored by contributions from the Catholic Services Appeal.

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