Sixty adults and youth from the Diocese of Brooklyn were among more than 2,000 who attended the National Black Catholic Congress in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month.
Every five years, black Catholics in the U.S. gather for this four-day event, which addresses issues that affect black families and communities around the country, and encourages attendees to live authentically black and authentically Catholic lives. This year’s theme was: “The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me: Act Justly, Love Goodness and Walk Humbly With Your God.”
The program for the congress included daily speakers and workshops focused on topics such as building servant-leaders, serving urban youth in a secular society, social justice, prison ministry, African American sainthood and pro-life ministry.
Leading the Brooklyn delegation were retired Auxiliary Bishop Guy Sansaricq and Auxiliary Bishop Neil Tiedemann, and Fathers Alonzo Cox, Dwayne Davis, Patrick Longalong and Mark Bristol. Father Bristol delivered a homily at the congress, and Father Davis served as one of the main masters of ceremonies for the liturgies.
For most in the diocesan delegation, this was their first congress and a powerful experience of the Church in the U.S. But it was an equally rewarding experience for those who come back year after year.
“This was one of the best congresses that I have attended (out of six),” said Dennie Foster from St. Teresa of Avila-St. Anthony of Padua parish in South Ozone Park. “The homilies were inspiring, educational and very hopeful.
“It was a great experience as a Brooklyn delegate to help develop the National Black Catholic Congress Pastoral XII Plan of Action, which will be implemented this fall,” she noted.
More Active Role
The plan calls for black Catholics to use their gifts to share their faith and take more active roles in church life on the local, regional and national levels.
“It was also an enlightening and great experience as I gathered with other African American Catholics, clergy and laity,” Foster added, “to share faith and the concerns that face our community.”
Among the Brooklyn and Queens attendees were 25 young people from the Youth Ambassador Program, part of the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns.
“The workshops were insightful,” said Lorenzo Boland of St. Thomas Aquinas parish, Flatlands. “I have learned a lot more about my faith and [about] those on the journey with me.”
“I learned so much from the forums I attended along with my fellow ambassadors,” said Nia Compton, also from St. Teresa of Avila-St. Anthony of Padua parish. “I look forward to whatever God has in store for my future.”
Most of the participants left uplifted and are looking forward to attending the next congress in five years.
“The whole experience was great,” said Nicole Noel from Our Lady of Light parish, St. Albans. “I feel like the congress has empowered me as a young adult in my faith journey.”