After a lengthy delay, the Black Catholic Theological Symposium will host its annual meeting in person at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana from October 7-9th.

The plan was a year in the making, originally scheduled for 2020 but pushed back a year by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The theme for the meeting is “Emerging from the Pandemic: Black Theology Matters”, and it will be led by BCTS convener Fr Maurice J. Nutt, CSsR.

A public flyer released late last month announced the main speakers and sponsors—the latter of which includes the university’s Africana Studies and Theology departments, as well as the Cushwa Center, campus ministry, Initiative on Race and Resilience, and McGrath Institute.

Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, who headlined this year’s Catholic Theological Society of America convention, will give the BCTS public lecture on Thursday, October 7th at 6pm CST, entitled “#BlackLivesMatter as Public Theology”.

Balancing out the podium the next night will be the retired bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois, who will present the annual Black Church Studies Colloquy on the topic of his new book, “The Catholic Church and the Racial Divide in the United States”.

That event, sponsored by Notre Dame’s Africana Studies department, will occur on Friday afternoon at 3:30pm CST.

On October 9th, the final day of the meeting, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington will celebrate Mass at 4pm CST in South Bend’s signature church, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

The Mass, as well as the lectures from Copeland and Braxton, are open to the public, but the other sessions—including the presentation of papers—are part of the members-only portion of the meeting.

BCTS is returning to in-person status as campuses nationwide prepare to welcome students back to campus—many of them for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

Notre Dame, which was one of the first universities to close in Spring 2020—and again that Fall—announced in April 2021 that they would require students to be vaccinated for their return to campus in August, along with university staff and faculty.

As that news unfolded, the university was finalizing plans to bring the BCTS event to campus as well.

“I suggested to Timothy Matovina, chair of our theology department, that we put a bid in to host it,” said Eric Styles, rector of Carroll Hall at the university. He and Matovina are now helping to lead the hosting committee for the event.

The BCTS 2021 call for papers ends on August 27th, and interested parties should send a 200- to 400-word abstract to Associate Convener Dr. Kim Lymore at kmlymore.bcts@gmail.com.

BCTS members can sign up for hotel rooms here; registration closes September 7th.


Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, in priesthood formation with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).


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