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Black Catholic spring: African American transitional deacons receiving holy orders

Who says Black men aren't answering the call? Springtime is bringing priestly ordinations around the country this year.

It’s a summer of vocation for the Black Catholic Church, as African-American and Haitian transitional deacons around the country prepare for ordination to the priesthood in a time of great need.

This month has already brought the elevation of Frs Alain Waterman and Jeremy Luly, both for dioceses in Florida, and three more are scheduled for the next two weekends.

Waterman, a native of Haiti, was ordained for the Diocese of Palm Beach on May 1st, and Luly for the Archdiocese of Miami a week later. Luly, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, is the son of Haitian immigrants.

Waterman will begin his priesthood as parochial vicar of St Ann in Palm Beach. Luly’s assignment is unclear at the time of this writing.

This coming weekend will bring the ordination of Dcn Wesbee Victor, a Haitian-born clergyman for the Archdiocese of New York. He is also vice-president of the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association (NBCSA).

His ceremony is scheduled for May 29th at St Patrick’s Cathedral—the burial place of legendary Haitian-American Venerable Pierre Toussaint.

The following weekend will bring two elevations of African Americans to the priesthood—that of classmates.

Dcn Ajani Gibson, vice-secretary of the NBCSA, will be ordained for the Archdiocese of New Orleans on June 5th, and Dcn Raney Johnson for the Diocese of Shreveport on the same day.

Both are recent graduates of Notre Dame Seminary in the Crescent City.

Gibson will be ordained at St Louis Cathedral, the first cathedral in North America, while Johnson’s ordination at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will come at the hands of Bishop Francis Malone, who will be ordaining to the priesthood for the first time.

Gibson’s assignment is as parochial vicar of historic St Peter Claver in New Orleans, while Johnson’s is yet to be announced.

Another of the nation’s soon-to-be-ordained African Americans also now has an assignment: Dcn Avery Daniel, of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, is taking over the chaplaincy of Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, Georgia.

The appointment, courtesy of Archbishop Gregory Hartmeyer, was announced last week and goes into effect on July 1st.

Daniel has been stationed at the school for over a year, and his ordination is expected for early next year.

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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