In a time of conflict, cultural diversity is celebrated in Buffalo
As violent conflicts continue to take place in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Buffalo celebrated the value in the diversity of different cultures with music and a meal.
The third annual Cultural Diversity Celebration sponsored by the diocesan Office of Cultural Diversity took place Oct. 13 at Classics V in Amherst. Created in conjunction with the African, African American, and Hispanic/Latino Commissions, this year’s event was hosted by Sister Roberta Fulton, SSMN, director of the Office of Cultural Diversity, with news personality Chelsea Lovell serving as MC.
“Today we are celebrating the diversity of the family as it speaks to the individual and collective experience, the particulars of a person’s life, language, background, culture and world view, as well as the church community that is formed from one faith,” Lovell said. “The phrase ‘One Faith Many Cultures’ refers to the idea that our common humanity is of one faith. That one faith can be expressed in many ways depending on the culture in which it is practiced.”
“One Faith Many Cultures” served as a theme for the evening. As a concept, it can be challenging, Lovell noted.
“Pope Francis reminds us, ‘Whenever people listen to one another humbly and openly, their shared values and aspirations become all the more apparent. Diversity is no longer seen as a threat, but as a source of enrichment.’ If we’re willing to open our hearts and our minds, we can build bridges of understanding and cooperation. We know we are composed of many numbers that make up one body.”
Looking at the agenda, Bishop Michael W. Fisher noted a musical selection was scheduled at the same time as his blessing. “Am I supposed to sing?” He asked.
“It’s wonderful to be with you this evening. Isn’t it great that we get to be together like this,” he said.
Bishop Fisher spoke about Pope Francis partaking in the Synod of Synodality – a gathering of cardinals to discuss issues relating to clergy, religious and laity, churched and unchurched.
“It’s an opportunity for the Church to continue to, in the spirit of Vatican II, express how it communicates to the people of the Church and the people of the world, and we’re all a part of that. We’re a fabric and mosaic. I’ve heard often, as a church with so many cultures, there are so many different ways that we express our cultures and our faith. I think this synod is a wonderful opportunity for the Church to come together and to reflect on how best we can reflect and express the Good News that Jesus Christ has risen.”
We have much to pray for, the bishop said, asking that we pray for peace in the Holy Land and Middle East.
“We pray for those who have been affected through war and terrorism. We pray that cooler heads prevail. And we hope for solutions to our problems that we can recognize in everyone, no matter where we’re from, that dignity that we have as children of God. Isn’t that what we celebrate when we celebrate diversity?” he said.
Each of the commissions awarded one of its members for their tireless work within their community.
Deacon Ron Walker received a service award from the African American Commission. The first African American ordained from the permanent diaconate program, he has served the diocese for 40 years, most recently at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Buffalo. The award caught him by surprise.
“I had totally no idea that this was going to happen,” he said. “I accept for those who fought before us and those who settled down. I thank God for all of you.”
Deacon Roberto Miranda accepted the award from the Hispanic/Latino Commission. He was ordained in the first class of permanent deacons in 1978.
“I’ve been around a long time. I’m 91 so I’m still active, but I am doing very little. I don’t want to retire. As far as I am concerned I was born a deacon and I am a permanent deacon until I die,” he said, drawing applause. “I had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends, and had a good life. I have been blessed by the Lord.”
The African Commission recognized Father Daniel Ogbeifun from the Central Niagara Catholic Family for his work with the commission and the music videos he posts on YouTube.
Each commission also presented works of art that represented their culture. Our Lady of Guadalupe, African American centered parishes, and African musical instruments were included.
The evening ended with a raffle and dance.