More than 200 Black Catholics gathered Oct. 29 for the 36th annual African American Catholic Day of Reflection on the campus of St. Martin de Porres Church in West Louisville.
The day-long event aimed at preparing parishioners for the National Black Catholic Congress XIII to be held in July in Oxon Hill, Md. The national gathering convenes every five years to renew and develop its mission to evangelize and enhance the physical and spiritual well-being of African Americans in the church and society, according to its website.
The day began with an opening Mass celebrated by Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre. Gospel music filled St. Martin de Porres Church, where the archbishop reflected on one of the day’s readings. In the Book of Habakkuk, God tells the prophet to “ ‘Write down the vision. Make it plain upon tablets so that the one who reads it may run, may know.’ ”
People often write down important things to remember or make a commitment, the archbishop noted.
The “problem” with writing things down, especially things like visions, hopes and dreams, is that people sometimes tend to sit and wait for God to fulfill them, he said.
“You know what usually happens? Nothing,” he said.
“I think that is to misunderstand what God is telling us to do. God does say, ‘If it delays, wait for it.’ And you know why none of us likes to wait? It’s because we think it’s wasted time,” said the archbishop. “When God invites us to wait, God is inviting us to active waiting. God’s inviting us into the vision he has given to us. God is inviting us to put forth an effort to bring forth that which we desire. … Waiting is active.”
That’s what God was saying to the prophet Habakkuk, the archbishop said.
Reflecting on the day, Annette Mandley-Turner said the message from the Book of Habakkuk was “profound” and that the concept of actively waiting resounded with her.
Mandley-Turner is the executive director of the Office of Multicultural Ministry, which organized the day of reflection, one of the various programs funded by the Catholic Services Appeal.
Mandley-Turner said her office has written down its vision in a five-year plan of action, which serves as a guide to minister to Black Catholics in the Archdiocese of Louisville.
The plan produced a variety of initiatives, including the day of reflection, programs for youth, programs to strengthen the family and outreach to the wider community.
The plan developed from discussions that followed the National Black Catholic Congress XII in 2017, she said.
Since the 2017 national gathering, a lot has changed, Mandley-Turner said, especially the issue of racial justice and the “burden of the economy.”
People are feeling as if they need relief and “Black people gravitate toward the church as a sign of relief,” she said.
She added that she’s looking forward to being “energized” by the national gathering in July.