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African American Commission looks back at vibrant year

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Father Moses Ikuelogbon (from left), Father Paul Williams, and Father Denning Achidi concelebrate a Revival Mass with Bishop Michael W. Fisher (center, without mask) at St. Martin de Porress Parish in Buffalo. (Photo by Richard Clark)

The diocesan African American Catholic Commission continues to thrive, even during the pandemic, through virtual means of communication. The members continue to fulfill their mission of leadership, evangelization and social justice through a series of prayer services. In September 2020, the commission began the first of these services, “The World Turns: Walking in Faith During Uncertain Times.” This prayer service was designed as a ministerial outreach to uplift those in times of uncertainty and loss brought on by the Coronavirus global threat and civil unrest due to racial tensions following the death of George Floyd.

For the 2021 day of observance for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the commission hosted the virtual prayer service “Caring Through Solidarity” to bring continued prayer, comfort, confirmations of faith, and messages of hope to members of the diocese. The prayer services following January 2021 became part of the “Walking with the Saints” series. These events fulfill the pastoral plan of action to “develop and implement an ongoing process to enable Black Catholics to enhance their Africentric spirituality.” The commission honored three African Americans who are on the road to sainthood: Servant of God Thea Bowman (on March 23), Venerable Father Augustus Tolton (on May 24), and Servant of God Julia Greeley (on July 26).

The commission’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mass was held Jan. 17 at St. Anthony Parish in Lackawanna. The theme for this year’s Mass was “Called by God to Serve.” The commission’s own Sister Roberta Fulton, SSMN, did a rousing reflection at the Mass inspired by one of Dr. King’s sermons, “How Long, Not Long.” The 2021 Revival “Families of Faith” was celebrated Saturday, Aug. 28. The biennial revival is a time to affirm our faith and pray together to seek ways as a community to strengthen our faith. The year’s revival included fun activities for families, Bishop Michael W. Fisher as celebrant, and revivalist Father Paul Williams, OFM, of St. Camillus Church in Silver Springs, Maryland.

Upcoming Walking With the Saints Prayer Services: Sept. 27 – Virtual Prayer Service honoring Venerable Pierre Toussaint, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 – Diversity Celebration Dinner Dance, Samuel’s Grande Manor, Clarence, 6:30 p.m.
November – Black Catholic History Month, events TBA
January 2022 – Virtual Prayer Service honoring Venerable Henriette Dellile, 7 p.m., date TBA
January 2022 – Virtual Prayer Service honoring Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, 7 p.m., date TBA
Jan. 16, 2022 – The Annual diocesan Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mass, Blessed Trinity Church, 10 a.m.
Jan. 17, 2022 – MIK Day Virtual Service for the Youth, time TBA
February 2022 – Black History Month, events TBA

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