DAY OF REFLECTION
Archdiocese of Washington, DC and Dioceses of Richmond, VA and Arlington, VA
In a collaborative effort, the offices of Black Catholic ministries of The Archdiocese of Washington and the Dioceses of Richmond and Arlington hosted a Day of Reflection which was held in November, 2011 at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Vienna, Va. The day was focused on beginning the exploration of the history of black Catholics in the United States, the effects of race and racism on the practice of the faith, and what we can do, collectively, to move forward. The speakers for the day were, Mrs. Jacqueline Wilson, former Exec. Dir. of the Office of Black Catholics for the Archdiocese of Washington, Dr. Edwin Nichols, Ph.D, Director at Nichols and Associates, Inc A firm which specializes in Cultural Competence in Leadership, Systemic Congruence in Organizational Structure, and Executive Coaching using German Methods, and Rev. Maurice Nutt, C.Ss.R., a priest , preacher, and author of numerous books. He is a professor at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana.
The day focused on the experience of black Catholics from the very beginnings of the church and in this country. Fr. Nutt gave brief introductory remarks to set the tone for the day and what we might take away at the end. Jackie Wilson gave a presentation which explored the story of African American Catholics from the landing of Fr. Andrew White, S.J., and his crew in 1634 to the 1990’s based on her book, “O, Write My Name”, which she co-authored with Dr. Loretta M. Butler. Dr.
Nichols, a clinical Psychologist, made a presentation on the effects of racism and race upon Black Catholics. He used his research on the mechanisms of racial bias, and racial privilege and their effects. There was time given to questions and answers after each of the presentations.
Fr. Nutt concluded the day with an energetic and enlightening presentation and exhortation to do something. He made the point that Black people have been a part of this church from its very beginning. We have remained faithful to the Gospel message even when our leaders did not live the word. We have much to offer the church; our faithfulness, our willingness and ability to persevere under very trying circumstances and our unshakable belief that good will triumph. By all accounts, the
day was successful.
The day concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist with the parish. Most Reverend Leonard Olivier, S.V.D. was the main celebrant and Homilist. This was followed by a reception in the church hall.
This was the closing, official, event of the Offices of Black Catholics celebration of Black Catholic History Month. This month was most successful in forwarding one of the goals of the offices: to educate the faithful of the faithfulness and perseverance of black Catholics from the earliest times to the present.