Next year’s Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) is set for January 29th to February 1st, 2022, to be held in a virtual format for the second year in a row and featuring Dr. Shannen Dee Williams as a keynote speaker.

The theme for the event is “Justice at the Margins”, and Louis Jones of Catholic Urban Programs in East St Louis, Ill.—the immediate past recipient of the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award—will serve as emcee.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington is also scheduled to speak, and the conference Mass will be streamed from St Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in DC, where one of the nation’s few African-American monsignors, Ray East, serves as pastor.

The annual conference highlighting Catholic Social Teaching is sponsored each year by the bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development, alongside 10 USCCB committees and 20 Catholic organizations in the United States.

Among the dozens of scheduled events are the keynote—which will feature Williams speaking on “the history of racism and the call to justice”—and sessions covering systemic racism, restorative justice, affordable housing, poverty, political polarization, and the effects of COVID-19 on the poor.

“We will pray, learn, and advocate together as we seek to create communities of justice where all can thrive,” the conference description reads.

“This call is especially important as we come out of a pandemic that further pushed some communities to the margins.”

Among those communities are African Americans, whose rate of death from COVID has remained disproportional—and whose struggle against racism has become of general global concern during the past 20 months.

A Black bishop in New Orleans, Fernand Cheri III, OFM, is represented in the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), a sponsor for the conference, and another African American, Ralph McCloud, serves as director for the CCHD (which is also presenting at the conference).

The bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, also a conference sponsor, is led by another Black bishop, Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, and also has a Black director in Danielle Brown.

Registration for CSMG is open now and tickets are $50. Financial assistance is available for “leaders from under-represented ethnic, cultural, or disability communities,” per the conference organizers.


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


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