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Bishop Burbidge Celebrates African Communities Mass

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On October 10, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, celebrated African Communities Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Raleigh. The Mass, now in its second year, recognizes the many African nations represented throughout the Diocese. Concelebrants were Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General; Msgr. Thomas P. Hadden, Vicar for African Ancestry, Ministry and Evangelization; Fr. Roger Malonda, Parochial Vicar at St. Mary Mother of the Church in Garner; Fr. Pius Wekesa, Parish Administrator at St. John the Baptist in Roanoke Rapids; and Fr. Joseph Oji, Parochial Vicar at St. Michael the Archangel in Cary.

The Mass was celebrated in three languages: French and Swahili and Igbo. Among those in attendance were Catholic faithful from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire. The liturgy included hymns in different African languages, accompanied by drums and other musical instruments customary in the celebration of the African Mass.  Fruits, such as pineapples and mangos, were offered in the Presentation of the Gifts.

In his homily, Bishop Burbidge reflected on the day’s Gospel reading of the 10 lepers. He noted how their experience of separation was similar to that of many from Africa who also suffered separation and despair. “They were isolated from society. They were cut off from their families. No one associated with them. They were always kept at a distance,” the Bishop said. “Your histories are filled with such tragic stories, and even today, we must pray fervently that all forms of racism, prejudice and injustice are eradicated.

“As we celebrate your heritages, histories and cultures, we are reminded of the unique gifts you bring to the Church,” the Bishop added. “Please continue to share these gifts with our Diocese and help to build and strengthen this local Church.”

Msgr. Hadden expressed his gratitude to Fr. Malonda, Fr. Wekesa, and Fr. Oji for their assistance in preparation of the liturgy. He also thanked Bishop Burbidge for the love and conviction expressed in his homily that touched the hearts of all present.

Lauren Green, Director of African Ancestry Ministry said, “It is important for us to come together and celebrate Mass with the African communities as a reminder to ourselves that, as St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:12, ‘As a body is one, though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.’”

The African Communities Mass was followed by a reception at the Fallon Center.

Above: Part of the faithful attending the Annual Diocesan African Communities Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Raleigh.

Below: The Presentation of the Gifts included fruit common to African nations.