January 11, 2012 // Local

Day of reflection to focus on Black faith and culture

SOUTH BEND — The Secretariat for Special Ministries and Evangelization of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is planning a special Day of Reflection for the faithful from across the diocese on Feb. 4, when the community will join at St. Augustine Church in South Bend for SANKOFA — Celebration of Black Catholic Faith and Culture.

Dominican Sister Dr. Jamie T. Phelps, director emeritus of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of New Orleans, will be the keynote speaker.

The day will consist of breakout sessions, parish histories, personal time for prayer and reflection, and music performed by the Notre Dame Gospel Choir, as well as the St. Augustine Gospel Choir and teen African Drum group.

Deacon Melvin Tardy of St. Augustine Parish said, “This will be the first significant gathering and community dialogue involving a broad representation of Black Catholics from our diocese, and those who minister to Blacks.”

He added, “The program will look at the past, present and future of Black Catholics in our diocese. … My hope is that the historical uniqueness of this event will draw the critical mass needed to comfortably share and discuss these common experiences and issues, while also celebrating the rich diversity of our faith.”

Deacon Tardy reported that some of the issues facing Black Catholics today include keeping the younger generation involved in their faith and racism in Catholic schools.

Deacon Tardy noted that the reason for the program is to create awareness and interest across the diocese for attending the upcoming National Black Catholic Congress in Indianapolis to be held July 19-21. The theme for the congress, which is held every five years, is “Faith Engaged: Empower, Equip, Evangelize.” Information on how to become a delegate for the event will be available at the day of reflection.

Barbara Joseph, a member of St. Augustine Parish, feels the day of reflection can benefit not only Black Catholics, but all those interested in Black faith and culture.

She said, “I hope we have a big crowd. It would be great for us to come together and learn through our common and not so common experiences. We hope people just come to reflect and perhaps learn something about the Black Catholic experiences.”

The day of reflection will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Augustine Church, located at 1501 W. Washington St., South Bend, 46628.

Cost is $10 per person, which includes lunch. For further information or to register contact the Secretariat for Special Ministries and Evangelization of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend at (260) 399-1437 or email [email protected].

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