Michael Howard, a well-known Black Catholic writer and educator, has been named the inaugural fellow in a new initiative at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Housed within the school’s Center for Religion and Spirituality (CRS), the role will include the development of two semester-long continuing education courses launching this fall.
“[They] will make up a single program focused on the concerns of African-American Catholics in terms of the problem of racism and their experience of faith,” reads the description posted on the university website.
Howard shared the news on social media Friday evening.
The new program adds to the current slate of ten under the CRS umbrella at the 157-year-old Jesuit institution, and it is the first focused specifically on the African-American experience, with others focusing more generally on spiritual direction, theology, spirituality, ministry, and liturgy.
Howard will join another Black Catholic contributor within CRS, LMU faculty member Dr. Kim Harris, a well-known liturgist and historian who teaches in the university’s Theology department.
His new program is entitled “The Presence of Black Catholics Today and Tomorrow”, perhaps hinting at the recent focus within the Black Catholic community on visibility, retention, and renewed vibrancy.
Howard’s own ministry focuses includes these issues and others, with his best-known output being the Eat the Scroll Ministry, a Bible study publication he founded in 1990 for Black Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington.
It has since transitioned to a virtual format and continues to provide regular reflections written by a variety of Black ministry leaders from around the country.
A graduate of St Mary’s University and Seminary in Baltimore, Howard has taught courses remotely for the University of Dayton, as well as the STEP Online program within the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life. He has also led certificate programs for the Archdiocese of Washington.
His background in parish work has included Religious Education posts at various parishes in the DC metro area, and he has also worked as a liturgy consultant for an academic publishing company as well as St Francis Xavier Academy, a Black Catholic primary school in DC.
Through Eat the Scroll, Howard is also active in promoting the causes of the six African-American Catholics on the road to sainthood, including the metro area’s own Servant of God Mother Mary Lange.
The course titles for the new program have not yet been announced, but open houses for prospective CRS applicants are held once a month on Wednesdays at 6pm PT, with the next scheduled for April 13th.
Signups are available on their website.
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).