Faith bolsters life of black parishioner

Loueva Moss

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Faith and perseverance have seen Loueva Moss through much of her life — from growing up in rural Lebanon, Ky., in the 1940s to moving to Louisville in the mid 1950s.

Now a parish leader at Christ the King Church, she has seen many changes in the church — from discrimination in the pews to the creation of an archdiocesan office for African-American ministry.

Moss, an African-American woman, was born into a farming community in the region known as “the Kentucky Holy Land,” where Kentucky’s first Catholics settled in the 1700s.

Her father owned a farm and the family lived a quiet life, despite the racial segregation that characterized the period. Moss said during an interview at her home last week, her parents were faith-filled Catholics who made the best of the time they lived in.

She remembers how she and her five siblings got along well with the white children who lived next door. They played together, she remembered, but knew and accepted that their friendship didn’t go beyond the farm, because blacks and whites were not supposed to interact.

She recalls the school bus picking up the children next door and driving past as she walked two-and-a-half miles to St. Monica School, where she was taught by the Sisters of Loretto. One of the family’s white neighbors, apparently fed up with this injustice, went to the school board, Moss said. From that conversation came the decision to transport Moss and her siblings to school by bus.

By the time she entered high school, though, the injustice rose front and center again. She had to attend a public high school because the local Catholic high school didn’t accept black students.

A family of faith

Despite these hardships, Moss’ face lights up when she talks about her childhood, her family and her faith. Their lives revolved
around their parish, St. Monica Church, she said.

“Church was the family,” said Moss. St. Monica had one Mass on Sunday at 6 a.m. and Benediction later in the evening. Children didn’t get to choose whether they attended Mass. It was just something the family did every Sunday, she said.

“As teens we still had to get up to go to Mass no matter how tired we were,” Moss recalled, laughing.

The church also served as a “social outlet” for black Catholics, she said. Following Benediction Sunday evening, the older people stayed around and talked while the kids played outdoors, said Moss. Her parents, she said, were faithful to the Catholic religion and to their local church.

“We didn’t look at it as ministry then,” she said of the work the family did at church. “We just did whatever it took to keep the church growing, whether it was cleaning, singing in the choir or working at the fair.”

After high school, Moss said, she was determined to succeed. That determination brought her to Louisville in 1956. In the city, she enrolled in Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital’s three-year registered nursing program. She graduated in 1959 and married a year later.

Moss, who also earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Spalding University in 1974, has been a member of Christ the King Church on South 44th Street since the early 1960s. When she joined, the church was composed mostly of white families. Today Christ the King is one of several parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville with a mostly black presence.

‘Pray and obey’

Mass in the city was quite different from Lebanon. In the city, black parishioners were required to sit in the back of the church.

Moss’ faith didn’t falter, though, even when the pastor seemed reluctant to baptize her child.

Moss said as a young woman in her 20s she was still guided by what she was taught as a child, to “pray and obey,” so she took it in stride. Looking back at the experience, Moss is still gracious. “You have to remember back then not all pastors were open to blacks moving into their parishes,” she said. “Perseverance and continued conversations” led the pastor to eventually baptize her child, she said.

These experiences didn’t shake her faith in the Catholic Church. She never thought about leaving the church, she said, though her husband, Arthur Moss, is Baptist and a member of Mount Lebanon Baptist Church.

“I believe in what the Catholic Church teaches,” she said. “My centering point is the Eucharist — the Body and Blood of Christ is central to me — and being able to partake in that every day if I choose.”

She credits her deep-rooted faith in the church to her parents, grandparents and relatives.

“They were strong in their faith,” she said. “I had a praying mother.”

Much to offer the church

Though Moss had always been involved in the church, it wasn’t until she was a young adult with four children of her own that she really recognized how “valuable” black Catholics are to the church, she said.

“We were instrumental in the growth and development of the universal church,” she said, adding that black men helped to build churches, including the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky.

The conviction that she and other black Catholics have much to offer has kept her busy in the church for more than six decades. In the early 1980s she belonged to a group called the Black Catholic Planning Committee, which met regularly to talk about and plan ways to get black Catholics more involved in the life of the church.

From these efforts, the Office of African American Catholic Ministries — now known as the Office of Multicultural Ministry — was formed in 1988.

Moss says she still believes that black Catholics have much to offer, but oftentimes they settle into being “silent believers.”

“As a people, we sometimes are silent believers,” she said. “We don’t always make our needs known at an archdiocesan level.”

It’s important, she noted, that each person realize they are accountable for the growth of the church.

Over the years, Moss has served her parish as a catechist and as the “lifelong formation chairperson” for four parishes in West Louisville — the parishes of Christ the King, St. Martin de Porres, Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Augustine.

“Faith formation is a lifelong journey,” she said. At 78, Moss said she’s looking to hand the baton to a younger person, but plans on sticking around. “I’m grounded in my faith. I’m not going anywhere.”

The Record
Written By
The Record
More from The Record
Holy Cross donates 2,100 hours of service in one day
Record Staff Report Holy Cross High School donated 2,100 hours of service...
Read More
0 replies on “Faith bolsters life of black parishioner”