The National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC) is seeking young adult Catholics interested in collaboration with their work, according to social media posts sent out last week.
LaRyssa Herrington, a PhD student at the University of Notre Dame and recent collaborator with the NBCC, announced the news on March 3rd.
Herrington assisted the NBCC with their recent young adult webinar series, “Black Catholics and the Millennial Gap”, which ran from last November (Black Catholic History Month) through Black History Month in February.
The series covered topics ranging from racism to environmentalism to liturgy, and featured millennial academics working toward doctorates in theology at Catholic institutions around the country.
The series reflected the NBCC’s new push for more involvement from young Catholic leaders in their mission to serve the nation’s Black Catholics. The organization was founded in 1987 during the Black Catholic Movement, and is based upon the mission of the Colored Catholic Congress founded by Daniel Rudd in 1889.
The NBCC’s latest effort comes just ahead of the organization’s flagship event, the National Black Catholic Congress gathering which occurs every five years and gathers thousands from around the country. The most recent, Congress XII, was held in Orlando in 2017.
The organization recently announced that the next meeting, Congress XIII, will take place at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland from July 20-23rd, 2023.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed from its original date this year—which coincided with the 25th anniversary of the dedication of DC’s Our Mother of Africa Chapel, located in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Congress XIII is still expected to feature a commemoration of that date, but the overall theme for the gathering has yet to be announced. It is likely that young adults will be a focus.
A recent Pew study published in 2021 found that just 54% of Black adults raised as Catholics continue to identify as such, sparking an outcry from African-Americans and others lamenting the state of the Church.
Younger Black Catholics have been noted as particularly likely to disaffiliate, and the NBCC’s new initiative may be in response to the emerging data.
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).