African Ancestry Ministry and Evangelization: Day of Reflection
On November 19, Office of African Ancestry Ministry and Evangelization (AAMEN) of the Diocese of Raleigh celebrated Black Catholic History Month with its annual Day of Reflection and Mass celebrated at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Durham. Black Catholic History Month recognizes the achievements, traditions and customs of Black Catholics born in the United States and the immigrants coming to the U.S. from African nations.
In 1990, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus (NBCCC) of the United States voted to establish November as Black Catholic History Month. November was chosen due to several important dates to Catholics of African ancestry that fall within November. All Saints Day provides an opportunity to review the lives of the hundreds of Saints of African ancestry in the first 300 years of the Church. All Souls Day offers a time to remember Africans lost to cruel treatment in the Middle Passage crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Other dates of special observance are:
- Nov. 3: Feast of St. Martin de Porres, the only saint of African ancestry in this hemisphere
- Nov. 13: The birth of St. Augustine in 354 A.D., a Doctor of the Church from North Africa
- Nov. 20: The death of Zumbi of Palmares in Brazil, South American founder of a free state for Blacks
The Day of Reflection, attended by AAMEN members from parishes throughout the Diocese, non-Catholics and visitors, focused on evangelization. The guest speaker, Richard Lane, a lay Catholic evangelist from St. Louis, MO, led the discussion on how to be better evangelizers, referencing Church documents. The session was followed by small group discussions.
The day ended with Mass celebrated by The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge. Reverend Raymond J. Donaldson, S.J., Pastor of Holy Cross and Reverend Monsignor David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese of Raleigh concelebrated.
In his homily, Bishop Burbidge said, “The day of recollection had as its theme the call to be evangelizers, to tell the good news to bring Jesus to others. How can you do that, my brother and sisters,” Bishop Burbidge asked, “unless in your very life it is crystal clear that Jesus Christ is your Lord and King?”
The Bishop continued, “As we end this liturgical year and soon begin the sacred season of Advent, I think the Lord is giving us a wonderful invitation this evening to renew that commitment and promise. If we live that way, then we, too, can say and pray with profound faith and trust, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’”