When Michaela Ivory was a freshman at Butler University, she wasn’t particularly interested in pledging to a sorority. But after meeting members of the Sigma Gamma Rho community and seeing the care and concern they had for others, she changed her mind and joined the sorority, which is one of the legendary Divine Nine.
The nation’s largest black Catholic fraternal organization is looking for new members, and the recruitment drive is already bearing fruit here in the Diocese of Brooklyn. The Knights of St. Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary Inc., a service group founded in 1909 in Mobile, Alabama, reports about 17,000 members in the U.S.
Almost one year ago, as I was watching the news on television with my parochial vicar, havoc was arising in the city of Minneapolis. Reports were coming in that an unarmed Black man had been killed by a Minneapolis police officer. I watched as protests and riots began to take place.
Msgr. Quinn (1888-1940), who was an Irish-American, was known for his fight against racial injustice. He established the first parish for Black Catholics in the diocese, St. Peter Claver Church, Bedford-Stuyvesant, in 1922.
The man who convinced the Diocese of Brooklyn to establish St. Peter Claver Church, the first African-American church in the diocese, was also a man who waged a long battle for civil rights for his parishioners and the larger black community.
Msgr. Bernard Quinn is a perfect candidate for canonization. That’s what one repeatedly hears when talking to clergy and laypersons in the Diocese of Brooklyn advocating for sainthood for the late, great church pastor.
When it comes to the earliest orders of Black Catholic religious sisters in the United States, Shannen Dee Williams wants people to recognize the perseverance, struggle, and commitment to God they put forth to make religious life possible for Black women and girls in the United States — something she considers overlooked.
“For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it” — these final words from Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman encapsulate hope. More than that, these words encapsulate faith in humanity.
The visions of peace, equality, and love will resonate powerfully during the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, as the tumult of 2020 continues into the new year, said clergy and laity in the Diocese of Brooklyn. The annual MLK day prayer service is set for noon Jan. 18 at Our Lady of Victory Church, in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The year was 1917. America had just entered World War I. It was also a somber time in church history — black Catholics were not welcomed to worship within the same space as their white Catholic brothers and sisters.