Fr Norman Fischer, a veteran priest of the Diocese of Lexington, has been elected president of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, the organization has announced.
The 50-year-old pastor will head a newly refreshed NBCCC board, chosen by the membership on August 21. He is joined by a new vice president in Fr Kareem Smith of New York; the incumbent secretary, Dcn Michael Taylor of New Orleans; and at-large members Fr Jeffery Ott and Br Herman Johnson, both of whom are members of the Dominican Order.
“To God be the glory,” said President-elect Fischer, who is succeeding Dcn Mel Tardy of Fort Wayne-South Bend in the presidential role.
“I remain a humbled priest son, always keeping before me how I was lifted up by the wisdom of so many great priests—many since deceased—of the NBCCC.”
Fischer is presently the pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, a historically Black parish in Lexington, where he has served since 2006. Under his leadership, the community recently completed a landmark rebuilding project, resulting in their new $3.5M worship space being dedicated earlier this year.
Himself an Afro-Asian American—likely the first to serve as NBCCC president—Fischer has praised the diversity of his parish, which now includes “Filipinos, Africans, African Americans, Anglo, Germans,” and various other ethnic groups.
The Kentucky native has also served as chaplain of Lexington Catholic High School for more than a decade, ministering to students in the Mass and through his directorship of the school’s Spiritual Life Center.
Fischer credits much of his success in ministry to the support he received from the various organizations with which he will now help convene each year as part of the Black Catholic Joint Conference. He specifically mentioned the influence of the Black women religious who prayed for him during his time in seminary.
“I must say it is crucial to me that the NBCCC be in solidarity with the phenomenal sisters and nuns of the National Black Sisters’ Conference,” he said.
“I'll never forget how so many of them literally prayed for me and with me at every joint conference leading to my ordination.”
Fischer has previously served as an officer of the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association (NBCSA), which collaborates with the NBCCC as a constituent organization and as a member of the Joint Conference.
The recently elected NBCSA president, James Johnson IV of Charlotte, will serve as an ex officio board member of the NBCCC, which was founded in 1968 to support “the spiritual, theological, educational, and ministerial growth of Black Catholic clergy, religious and seminarians.”
The newly elected priests, deacons, and religious brothers of the NBCCC board will be officially installed on Monday, September 25, in a ceremony known as the Rite of Transition. Ahead of the event, Fischer expressed gratitude for his predecessor’s work in one of the most challenging periods in the organization’s history.
“Deacon Mel truly paved a difficult pathway for us through the COVID-19 pandemic and guided our organization with grace and peace,” Fischer said, adding a note on his hopes for the future.
“I believe I am called to be a bridge connecting the strong wisdom of our elders to the dynamic vision of our youthful Black Catholic religious, ordained, and lay leaders… I look forward to seeing where the Holy Spirit leads us together."
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.
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