Evening of prayer honors King’s legacy

BRIGHTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley presided over an evening of prayer and song in remembrance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. held at the Bishop Peterson Chapel on the campus of St. John’s Seminary Jan 14.

The service featured songs performed by the Archdiocese of Boston Black Catholic Choir led by Myer Chambers with pianist Hobert Yates and a reading of King’s speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” read by Pierre Monette, Jr., a professor at Suffolk University Law School.

Cardinal O’Malley addressed those gathered in his homily.

“What stuck with me in his remarks, was the cardinal’s call for us to go beyond ourselves,” said Lorna DesRoses, the coordinator of Black Catholic Ministries for the archdiocese’s Office of Cultural Diversity, the office that organized the evening.

“He told us that everyone talks about wanting to end discrimination, but we each have to go beyond our self-imposed borders to make it happen,” she said.

“The cardinal captured the essence of Dr. King’s life,” said Joyce Durst-Wedgeworth, a member of the choir, who also read one of the prayers of the faithful.

“He spoke from his own heart and from his own intellect on how we must confront this ugly sin of racism,” she said. “He said we must be Christ-like.”

“Some White Catholics in prior years were racist because of ignorance,” she said. “But, over the years many of them have overcome that and have repented to God and repented to us.”

Durst-Wedgewood said the prayer she read was a call for grace for those who were angry about the continuation of discrimination. “It is all right to be angry, but we shouldn’t let our anger lead us to sin.”

DesRoses said the annual service is a blend of song and prayer. “The music adds so much to the prayer service. It is integrated -- the whole worshipful experience.”

The tradition was started by Chambers in the 1990s, when he was her predecessor in the Black Catholic Ministries Office, she said. This is her third year organizing the service.

When she put the program together, DesRoses chose the “Mountaintop” speech because she wanted to expose people to the full canon, she said.

“We have all heard the ‘I Have a Dream,’ speech, but King was such a gifted rhetorician, it is important to hear his other works,” she said.

Monette’s rendering of the speech was one of the best she has heard, she said. “The program is so relevant to our lives today, it speaks to us as we sit and listen.”

DesRoses said the service is the highlight of her ministry. “It is such an honor to be a part of it.”