Day of Reflection brings Black Catholic community together with a vision

BRAINTREE -- Members of the archdiocese's Black Catholic community came together last month for an Archdiocesan Day of Reflection at the Pastoral Center. The event, held multiple times in the past, has returned for the first time since the pandemic. Despite the long interval apart, the day drew a significant number of in-person participants from parishes across the archdiocese.

This year, the theme was drawn from Habakkuk 2:2 -- "write down the vision."

"We must have that bold conversation with God ... then write down the vision, like the prophet," said Lorna DesRoses, consultant for the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization, speaking to The Pilot afterward via phone. "It's time to return to action items; come together in prayer. Like Habakkuk, I think we all have God's vision in our hearts. Taking time to be still so that we can receive it -- a vision of justice and of peace -- is important."

An ongoing concern, she said, has been around involving and accompanying the youth in the Black Catholic community. This, and other issues both new and old, were raised as the day began with introductions and flowed into a prayer service led by Dan Kurema, coordinator of the Kenyan Catholic Community. Following the prayer service, DesRoses gave a reflection on the passage from Habakkuk.

"God promises his justice will flourish," she said firmly, "but we must hope, and hope is active, not passive. It leads us to act but also to lean totally on God."

This juxtaposition of stillness and action remained strong throughout the gathering, demonstrating the vision the leaders and participants clearly shared for a vibrant Black Catholic community.

Hope, vision, and reliance on God were just as vivid in a short history of the National Black Congress, given by Father Oscar Pratt, member of National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus.

That national event began in 1899. Daniel Rudd, a journalist out of Ohio and a lay Black Catholic, recruited delegates for the National Black Catholic Congress and in January of that year, nearly 100 of them met with then-president Grover Cleveland.

The organisation's mission since its inception has been to enrich the Church through evangelization of African Americans both in and outside the Church, to enhance the physical and spiritual well-being of the African American community, and to create an ongoing agenda to meet those goals year in and year out. Events like the Boston Archdiocese Day of Reflection, as well as the national congress in July, are held for just this purpose.

Much like Daniel Rudd, DesRoses wants to see a revitalization of the Black Catholic community.

"And I particularly want to invite those who could not be present to be part of that ... for the preparation for National Congress," she said.

With the past in mind and the future viewed clearly through prayer and present needs and goals, the Day of Reflection closed with a large group evaluation of the event. Participants broke officially after a "sending in faith" by Father Pratt.

"There are enduring issues of concern," said DesRoses, "and it was important that people who were here got to express those concerns. This is important preparation for the national congress in the summer. The feeling here is hopeful."

There is a follow-up event planned, and DesRoses invited members of the community not present to contact her or Father Pratt if they would like to add items to the agenda. DesRoses may be contacted at 617-746-5810 or