40th Anniversary of the St. Joseph Gospel Choir

By: Ed Jones, Black Catholic Community

img_8524The St. Joseph Gospel Choir held its annual concert on Sunday, October 16, 2016 entitled “Dwell in The House,” marking its 40th Anniversary of providing song and praise at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Starting from humble beginnings in 1976, when gospel music was not commonly sung in the Roman Catholic Church, the choir is now recognized for its musical talent in gospel expression; St. Joseph Gospel Choir receives frequent requests to sing for Church events, as well as concerts throughout the Washington Metropolitan area and beyond.

The 40th Anniversary Concert also included choirs and performers from the metropolitan area, making this event an even larger spirit and joy-filled celebration. The gospel choirs
from Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington, Virginia, and Incarnation Catholic Church in Washington, DC added to an evening of beautiful music. The Hunt Sisters, a familyimg_8480 quartet, performed traditional gospel spiritual songs, and the Towdah Mime Ministry acted out mime praise
interpretations to music. Mr. Jeffery Corry serenaded the
audience with a collection of piano melodies from popular spiritual songs.  At the conclusion of the evening, everyone left feeling completely fulfilled.

Join in the celebration! St. Joseph’s Gospel Choir sings at 11:00 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 711 N. Columbus Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, on the third Sunday of every month. All are welcome!

26th Annual Manassas African-American Heritage Festival – August 6, 2016 (Evangelization in Action)

By Deacon Al Anderson, Jr. Black Catholic Ministries

For the third year in a row, the Black Catholic Ministries for the Diocese of Arlington’s Office of Multicultural Ministries has presented a display at the Manassas African-American Heritage Festival. Over the years the festival has grown to include more than 125 exhibitors, including arts and crafts dealers, retailers of African Wares, church groups, youth groups, colleges and school exhibits, Health Fair, Business and Job Expos, Classic Car Show and great food vendors.

African American Heritage Festival 2016

Our diocesan Black Catholic display

 

Our Black Catholic Ministries displays have routinely drawn fallen-away Catholics, curiosity seekers, and others into meaningful discussions. This year’s festival was no exception. What a wonderful opportunity for evangelization!

We met one lady (we’ll call her “Sue”) who was a cradle Catholic, but stopped going to church many years ago. Sue’s mother remained faithful to the practice of the faith and continues to pray for Sue’s “reversion” . Sue shared with me that this was her first Festival, but for some reason felt drawn to this year’s event. When she came across our display table she knew she had to stop and talk. We had a very good conversation and she is seriously considering coming back to Church. Praise God!

We also met an inter-racial Catholic couple who was looking for information about Black Catholics to share with their son. We were able to share with them:

  • The stories of the four African-American Catholics who currently have causes being promoted for canonization: Venerable Pierre Toussaint; Servant of God, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange; Venerable Mother Henriette Delille, and Servant of God, Fr. Augustus Tolton.
  • The histories of several Black Catholic religious orders, including: the Josephites (an active order of priests and brothers founded after the Civil War to minister to the spiritual and material needs of newly freed slaves), the Oblate Sisters of Providence (the oldest order of Black Catholic nuns in the world), and the Sisters of the Holy Family (The 2nd oldest order of Black Catholic nuns).
  • Information about the Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver – originally founded November 7, 1909 in Mobile Alabama as an organization to allow men and women of color membership in a Catholic fraternal, family-oriented, society.

Each year we have been blessed to have opportunities for dialogue with folks who are curious about Catholicism; have questions about what we believe; or are looking for a way “back home”. All the while enjoying great food, wonderful music, beautiful antique cars, and genuine, warm-hearted fellowship! Even the torrential rains which came at the end of the day couldn’t dampen the spirits of the good people there! Hope to see y’all there next year!

African American Heritage Festival 2016 pic3

And then the Rain came!

Phyllis L. Johnson receives the first Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Service Award!

This past November 2015, the Office of Multicultural Ministries partnered with the Black Catholic Ministries to hold an event entitled, Watering the Garden: Growing Vocations in the Black Catholic Family. Various speakers from across the U.S. came to speak at the event, including Bishop Joseph Perry of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Deacon A. Gerard Jordan, O. Praem., from Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and Father Scott Woods, from the Archdiocese of Washington, and Sister Josita Colbert, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Cincinnati, Ohio.

All seven speakers came prepared to speak on a variety of topics relating to vocations within the Black Catholic Family, during this day-long conference. The day ended with our annual Unity Mass, celebrated by Bishop Perry, in which Catholics of African-American, Caribbean, and  African descent gather to celebrate their unity in the Catholic faith.

After Mass, we held a reception for all those who attended the Unity Mass. At the reception, we presented the Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Award to Mrs. Phyllis L. Johnson, the very first recipient of the award! While Phyllis was quite surprised, the onlookers were not. Phyllis received this award because of how she has excelled inDSC_3198 (photo taken by Anthony J. Johnson ) service to not only the Black Catholic Community, but also to the Office of Multicultural Ministries. She is present at almost every event, and always comes with camera-in-hand, ready to take pictures and document the special moments that occur. She is constantly striving toward evangelization and discipleship and goes out of her way to help those in need. We were so thrilled to be able to present this award to such a deserving member of the Black Catholic Community. Congratulations, Phyllis!

Not only did this award receive attention throughout the Diocese of Arlington, but it also received national attention, as well! The National Black Catholic Congress got news of this award, and shared the story in a ‘Spotlight Article.’ Click here to view the article.

The Office of Multicultural Ministries plans on presenting the Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Award to a new recipient every year. This award is a great way to display our gratitude to those within the Black Catholic Community that consistently go above and beyond to not only help others within their community, but also at the Diocesan level. In the upcoming years, we will be asking those in the Black Catholic Community for nominations for this award. If you are interested in nominating someone to receive the Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Award, please click here to fill out the application.

Did you miss Watering the Garden: Growing Vocations in the Black Catholic Family? Click here to hear Bishop Joseph Perry’s Keynote or to listen to any of the talks by our many speakers throughout the day.