On November 3, 2012, the Feast of St. Martin De Porres, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, celebrated the annual African Heritage Mass at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Raleigh. Nine priests concelebrated, including Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese; Fr. Robert M. Hussey, S.J., Pastor of St. Raphael; and Fr. Marcos Leon, Vicar for African Ancestry Ministry. The Mass, now in its fourth year, was formerly called the African Communities Mass. The name of the event was changed to acknowledge the unity of all Catholics of African descent, including African Americans and Africans from the many African nations represented throughout the Diocese.
The Mass was celebrated in English and several African languages including French, Swahili and Igbo. The largest African communities in the Diocese are the Swahili and Igbo speaking communities. Some of the nations represented were Congo, Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire.
In his homily, Bishop Burbidge spoke about the Year of Faith decreed by Pope Benedict XVI. “With Catholics throughout the universal Church,” he said, “we have received a special invitation to deepen our intimate relationship with the Lord, demonstrated in the love we show for Him and one another. The Readings and the saint we honor today, Martin De Porres, assist us in that process.”
The Bishop continued, “At this Mass, we pray for the grace to deepen our relationship with God, demonstrated in our commitments to be true to all that we have promised the Lord; to be faithful citizens on behalf of the Gospel of Life and to be known for the charity we extend to others, especially to those in most need.”
Following Mass, children carrying flags of the various African nations represented led a procession of the faithful to a reception in the parish hall.
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Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge delivering homily at African Heritage Mass celebrated at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Raleigh.
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Below: Members of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary, St. Monica Court attending November 3 Mass.