by Georgeann Campbell.
“I had prepared a talk, but after hearing Dr. King’s speech proclaimed, I have something different to say,” said Tamika Daniels after hearing the proclamation of the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. This young member of St. Jerome’s parish in East Flatbush clearly heard the message: listen, dream and then work to make the dream come alive.
Change was in the air at St. Gregory the Great parish, Crown Heights, Jan. 16, even as participants prepared for the noon program in honor of Dr. King. The Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns (VCBB) had worked hard to prepare its annual celebration to remember Dr. King and encourage the community to keep the dream alive.
A table filled with memorabilia of Dr. King was displayed in the front of the church. Visitors could see the legacy of a humble man’s journey of faith and a review of this man of character recorded in books, tapes and in many other forms.
The program began with the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which has come to be known as the Negro National Anthem. Kenneth St. Bernard, director of the VBCC Choir, led those present in a robust rendition of this beloved anthem. The message of Dr. King is intertwined with the message of the song and the pride of a people. Both song and leader have come this far by faith and both the lyrics and the man continue to inspire and unite communities wherever the song is lifted.
The mission of the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns and the dream of the preacher from Montgomery, Alabama, are echoed in the lyrics that promote justice for all through peaceful avenues with the Lord as their guide and faith as their shield.
When the drums began to play, it was the signal to welcome everyone especially the visitors present. Each guest was invited to stand, give their name and their home church. This introduction was followed by a response from the community of “Amen!” Many churches in both Brooklyn and Queens were present and the “aahs” at the mention of each parish were warm and spontaneously joyful.
“We need to promote a sound dialogue with the community and work to help make the necessary changes while we pray to be a community who prays together regardless of race, creed or color.” These were some of the passionate goals voiced by Father Caleb A. Buchanan, VBCC coordinator. He reminded some and introduced others to the establishment of this vicariate office by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. Father Buchanan encouraged pastors to send representatives to its monthly meetings where plans and preparations are now underway to attend the XI National Black Catholic Congress in Indianapolis, Ind., in July. This historic gathering of representatives from across the U.S. and the Caribbean, meets to discuss ways to empower, equip and evangelize their faith communities and continually rebuild and add new members to the Church. The theme of this congress is “Faith Engaged.”
A day of reflection is planned for Saturday, Jan. 28, at St. Peter Claver, Bedford-Stuyvesant, beginning at 9 a.m. to introduce the goals, theme and the work of this upcoming Congress. Representatives will receive skills to promote better communication and skills to encourage collaboration in every facet of parish life.
When the “I Have A Dream” speech was proclaimed by Bishop Guy Sansaricq, Father Buchanan, and Ethel Andoh-Menson and Georgeann Campbell, both members of the Secular Franciscan Order and parishioners of Our Lady of Charity, Weeksville, the silence of those present was in direct contrast to the melodious voices that filled the church with pleas and prayers.
The speech was followed by reflections from two young people. Daniels, a college student, heard the dream and asked the elders to see young people as people. She asked for others to listen to their ideas and dreams for their parishes.
Brandon Dingle, a high school student and a member of Our Lady of Charity, believed in the dream and believed the dream could come true if people truly began to work together, put aside their differences and built on their needs and their faith.
Linda Hazel, a member of St. Bonaventure – St. Benedict the Moor parish in Jamaica, recalled her meeting with Dr. King and how he impacted her life.
Joyce Jones, from Our Lady of Mercy, Brownsville, spoke of the importance of not only hearing the message but educating each other on its content. She had taken a trip to Egypt and could not stress enough the importance of educating the community about our heritage.
Bishop Sansaricq tenderly and lovingly encouraged the community to embrace the message and to continue to dream.
The challenge was made clear by Bishop Sansaricq: Take the message and bring it back to your parishes, to your families and to your communities. Make the change so all people — Black, White, Gentile, Jew, Catholic — would be known, not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.[hr] Georgeann Campbell is a member of the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns.