Tomorrow morning, a legendary Black Catholic liturgist will be honored in a Black parish a few miles from the Alamo.
Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in San Antonio will host “We Must Work: A Concert in Honor of Kenneth W. Louis” at 10am CST on Zoom.
The event is co-sponsored by the diocesan Black Catholic Apostolate, which is housed at Holy Redeemer itself—the only Black parish in the archdiocese of San Antonio—and will feature fellow liturgists Rawn Harbor, W. Clifford Petty, and LeRell Ross honoring their late friend in an event that will double as a liturgical workshop of sorts.
Harbor is music director at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a Josephite parish in DC, and Ross at Our Lady of Lourdes in Atlanta (where Louis once served). Petty operates his own music company called Petty Notes and concurrently serves at Resurrection in Montgomery.
Louis, who was based in DC and then in Atlanta before his passing in November, had participated in several events with the three in previous years, including at Holy Redeemer’s Black History Month event last year.
Now, three will return.
“I thought it would be a good way to remember him,” said Carol F. White, the main organizer of the event and director of the local Black apostolate.
“If we had confirmations or other special events going on, he would come in from Atlanta. Including the 25th anniversary of our pastor Kevin Fausz’ ordination to the priesthood.”
This collaborative relationship between the parish and Louis had been ongoing for over a decade, and even longer for the other musicians involved in tomorrow’s event.
“The first time Rawn came here was about 25 years ago,” White said.
Harbor’s work can be found in various Catholic gospel collections from the largest publishers in the country (such as OCP), and Petty’s solo albums and Mass settings are similarly popular.
White noted that all three participants are “nationally known” for their recordings and workshops.
“They’re people that write music for the African-American Catholic community. Everybody knows them.”
Given their expertise and the dual nature of the event, a Q&A session will follow the concert, where viewers from various walks of life can pick the brains of some of the nation’s leading Black Catholic liturgists.
White underscored that this is an important part of what Holy Redeemer and the apostolate seek to accomplish as part of their mission.
"We try to do we try to bring people in that are going to be helpful, not only to us but to the community, Catholic and non-Catholic.”
Interested parties can register for the event here.
From the flyer:
"In the Black Catholic Community, there is always joy in our celebrations and conversations.
The purpose of our second gathering will be to continue to assess our liturgical needs, use right judgement in our liturgical planning and experience the joy of celebrations more fully; especially through our gift of song. The Community always finds joy when praying together. We can also find joy in learning about the “work” we do in ministry to our people and, thus, serving our Great God.
We will also remember Mr. Kenneth Louis who began this journey with us physically; now he will send his giant spirit of goodness toward us from heaven above."
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).