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Share the word about Black Catholic History

November is Black Catholic History Month, and it is a time full of eye-opening information for many people.

For example, most people don’t realize that black Catholic history dates all the way back to the Acts of the Apostles (8: 26-40) with the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Philip the Deacon.

The National Black Catholic Congress notes the importance of this text for several reasons. First, it chronicles the conver­sion of the first Black African in recorded Christian history. Second, the text suggests that the man was a wealthy, literate, and powerful emissary of the Nubian Queen and also a faith­ful, practicing Jew prior to his baptism; not an ignorant hea­then. Third, the Ethiopian Eu­nuch’s conversion takes place even before that of St. Paul.

Sister Roberta Fulton, prin­cipal of St. Martin de Porres School in Columbia, said she gets excited every year about all the ways to celebrate black Catholic history and share how they have helped make the Church what it is today. A na­tive of Kingstree, Sister Roberta noted that she is the only black religious sister from the state and is a living example of what the month is all about.

Black Catholic History Month was initiated in 1990 by the Na­tional Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States. November was chosen because it holds two commemorative dates for prominent African Catholics: St. Augustine, whose birthday is Nov. 13; and St. Martin de Porres, whose feast day is Nov. 3.

Every year, Sister Roberta said her school kicks off the month by celebrating the feast of St. Martin de Porres, who is their patron. The well-known saint is followed by lessons on lesser known figures, such as the three African popes — Sts. Victor I, Melchiades, and Gelas­ius I — who led the early church through much turmoil.

Several dozen saints fill the pages of history, from Monica and Augustine of Hippo to Perpetua and Felicitas. Visit https://www.ncronline.org/fea ture-series/black-saints/stories for more.

There are also many new names up for canonization, including religious from the Ob­late Sisters of Providence and Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, both of which served in the Diocese of Charleston.

Sister Roberta said they evan­gelize while they teach, making it fun through trivia, spelling bees, bingo and more.

“I get so excited,” she said, “It’s a big celebration for us. We try to open people to the rich­ness of the history.”

Here are some ways to celebrate, as provided by the Office of Ethnic Ministries:

* Read “The History of Black Catholics in the United States” by Cyprian Davis, “Oblate Sisters of Providence: A Pictorial History” by Sharon C. Knecht, or “Father Augustus Tolton: The First Recognized Black Catholic Priest in America” by Corinna Laughlin and Maria Laughlin.

* Host “What We Have Seen and Heard: A Reflection and Dialogue on Peace”, a pastoral letter written by Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Ill. (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/afri can-american/upload/racial-diversity-study-guide-bish-braxton.pdf)

* Involve youth in discussion using the new African American Catholic Youth Bible.

* Hold a music night on “Negro Spirituals”.

* Show the movie “Bakhita: From Slave to Saint”.

* Display the pictorial exhibit of the “History of Black Catholics in the Diocese of Charleston”.

* Give copies of “My Little Black Catholic History Book” to children.

* Contact Kathleen Merritt, director of the diocesan Office of Ethnic Ministries, for details: kathleen@catholic-doc.org.

Image: Composite, Black Catholic History Month




  • Diocesan Events Calendar
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    Nov 26 Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
    From the Calendar of Ethnic Ministries
    Nov 2712:00 am Classes Resume
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville
    School Resumes
    From the Calendar of Summerville Catholic School
    Students Return
    From the Calendar of St. Anthony of Padua School Greenville
    Back to School
    From the Calendar of St. Anne School Rock Hill
    Classes Resume
    From the Calendar of St. Francis Catholic School
    KAIROS retreat for Grade 11
    From the Calendar of Cardinal Newman School
    Classes resume
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville
    8:10 am Advent prayers
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville
    7:00 pm Mision y Correspons. #3
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Nov 28 Progress Report
    From the Calendar of St. Joseph School Anderson
    Interims (22 Days)
    From the Calendar of St. Andrew School Myrtle Beach
    7:00 pm Confirmation
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville
    7:00 pm Confirmation - St. Mary's - Greenville - Bishop Guglielmone to preside
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Nov 29 ER/In-service
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of Peace North Augusta
    7:00 pm Mision y Correspons. #4
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    7:00 pm Confirmation - St. Mary Magdalene - Simpsonville - Bishop Guglielmone to preside
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    7:30 pm Mision y Correspons. #3
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Nov 30 Key Club Blood Drive #2
    From the Calendar of Bishop England Charleston
    2:00 pm Club Day
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville