WASHINGTON — The National Black Catholic Congress will host a free webinar on Friday, September 30 to provide information to those planning a Day of Reflection event in preparation for next year’s Congress XIII gathering in Fort Washington, Maryland.
The online event will be hosted by NBCC consultant and special projects administrator Fr Stephen Thorne; as well as Fr Raymond Harris of Holy Family Catholic Church in Randallstown, Maryland; and Therese Wilson Favors, former director of the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Office of Black Catholic Ministries.
“The purpose of the webinar is to offer a brief history of the legacy of the NBCC, explain the NBCC 2023 theme, and offer suggestions on hosting a successful Day of Reflection,” the NBCC said in an announcement.
“This webinar is open to anyone, especially those who will be leading a Day of Reflection in their local diocese.”
A digital booklet was released by the NBCC on September 25 for Days of Reflection, following the Congress XIII theme of “Write the Vision: A Prophetic Call to Thrive,” drawn from a verse in the book of the prophet Habakkuk.
The document itself, edited by Wilson Favors and including Harris as a contributor, contains a brief history of Daniel Rudd’s Colored Catholic Congress movement spawned near the turn of the 20th century—in the spirit of which the NBCC was founded in 1987.
It also details the nature of the Days of Reflection, to be planned by committees in each diocese planning to send delegates to Congress XIII. At least one, the Archdiocese of Atlanta, has announced two Days of Reflection, the first taking place in late October.
“Oftentimes, the bishop empowers the Office of Black Catholics or the Office of Multicultural Ministry that has a Black Catholic subcommittee to lead this effort,” it reads.
Various resources are provided in the document, including relevant teachings from Pope Francis, national statistics concerning Black Catholic faith practice, and discussion guides for the Days of Reflection themselves.
Topics include the closures of Black parishes and schools, racism in US Catholicism, and the ongoing effects of the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19.
“Congress invites the Black community to listen to God’s voice through scripture and become a prophetic people who move towards a vision to thrive,” the document notes.
Also included are inspirational Black figures to guide participants, a suggested prayer service, and a list of relevant books—such as Fr Cyprian Davis, OSB’s “History of Black Catholics in the United States,” the “African-American Catholic Youth Bible”—and various resources from Black Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The booklet was recently mailed to each of the nation's Catholic bishops and diocesan Black Catholic ministry directors, and Friday’s webinar will begin on Zoom at 1pm ET. Prospective attendees can register here.
Congress XIII itself, expected to draw thousands to the DC area next summer, is scheduled for July 20-23, 2023 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, and early-bird registration will open soon at $395 per adult (not including lodging).
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).