Parishes | Schools | Priests | Masses |
More in this section MAIN MENU

'We've come this far by faith'

Black Catholics celebrate history, traditions at annual luncheon for Black Catholic History Month

MIAMI GARDENS | Music and dancing paved the way for fruitful conversation and celebrating traditions and customs that unite Black Catholics during the annual luncheon marking Black Catholic History Month.

Katrenia C. Reeves-Jackman, left, director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry, poses with this year's recipient of the St. Martin de Porres Award, Floredenis Brown, principal of Holy Rosary-St. Richard School in Palmetto Bay. The luncheon was held at St. Thomas University on Nov. 19, 2022.

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

Katrenia C. Reeves-Jackman, left, director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry, poses with this year's recipient of the St. Martin de Porres Award, Floredenis Brown, principal of Holy Rosary-St. Richard School in Palmetto Bay. The luncheon was held at St. Thomas University on Nov. 19, 2022.

Decked out in traditional African attire, participants gathered Nov. 19, 2022, at St. Thomas University to celebrate people of the African diaspora and a shared history. The annual gathering is sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry.

“We’ve come this far by faith, and I can never say that without the other part, leaning on the Lord,” said Katrenia Reeves-Jackman, director of the archdiocesan office. “We come together to celebrate who we are, our culture, our traditions because we’ve been around this faith for a long time. We bring gifts from being from the African diaspora. We take the time during this month to honor our ancestors and those who have gone before us in the Catholic faith. So that’s why our theme this year is ‘We’ve come this far by faith’.”

The annual celebration of Black Catholic history began in 1990, an initiative of the National Black Catholic Clergy Conference. In the Archdiocese of Miami, the ministry includes not only Catholics of African descent but also blacks from Caribbean nations such as Haiti and Jamaica and those with African roots from other nations such as Panama, Cuba, and Honduras, to name a few.

Members of the Praise Angel Dancers from St. Philip Neri Church perform during the Black Catholic History Month luncheon, held at St. Thomas University on Nov. 19, 2022. From left are Abby Warner and Kalani Kerr.

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

Members of the Praise Angel Dancers from St. Philip Neri Church perform during the Black Catholic History Month luncheon, held at St. Thomas University on Nov. 19, 2022. From left are Abby Warner and Kalani Kerr.

“The luncheon and the work of the Office Black Catholic Ministry serve as a continuing effort on the part of the Catholic Church in the United States to raise awareness and appreciation of the Black Catholic heritage and the unique gifts that they have to offer in contributing to the dynamic diversity that makes our faith all the more beautiful and relevant in the almost 65-year history of the Archdiocese of Miami,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski in a letter to the luncheon attendees.

He had kicked off the month-long celebration during a Massat St. Stephen Church in Miramar Nov. 5, 2022.

“The archdiocese that we belong to is perhaps one of the most diverse dioceses in the country,” said Father Franky Jean, pastor at St. Stephen, who gave the invocation at the luncheon. “We have priests from different countries and nationalities, there are people from all over the world in South Florida, and it’s because of this diversity that we can be so welcoming. That’s the beauty of the Archdiocese of Miami.”

From music by the Office Black Catholic Ministry to dancing by the Praise Angel Dancers from St. Philip Neri Church in Miami Gardens, the luncheon provided an uplifting atmosphere and allowed the performers to tell their stories of faith.

Carline Faublas, parishioner at San Isidro Church in Pompano Beach, cheers during the Black Catholic History Month luncheon, held at St. Thomas University on Nov. 19, 2022.

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

Carline Faublas, parishioner at San Isidro Church in Pompano Beach, cheers during the Black Catholic History Month luncheon, held at St. Thomas University on Nov. 19, 2022.

“It doesn't matter whether you are Black or white, yellow, green or purple, we are all part of one God,” said Theresa B. Davis, a member of the choir at St. Philip Neri who sang at the luncheon. “We are God’s people."

“It’s a wonderful feeling I have today,” said Arthur Taylor, a parishioner at St. Philip Neri, referring to the luncheon. “I love coming every year. It’s just a joyous time.”

This year’s recipient of the St. Martin de Porres Award and the keynote speaker was Floredenis Brown, principal of Holy Rosary-St. Richard School in Palmetto Bay.

“This Church, the growth of our Church, the growth of our culture within the Church is everything to me, so for me, it’s about passing on the legacy within the archdiocese so that more of us can go out and spread it everywhere,” said Brown. “I hope that people will understand that we have a charge to continue the legacy of Catholicism and our Black culture throughout the archdiocese and everywhere. We need to pass it on to the youth, we need to pass on the great legacy because the people who came before us have done their best, and now it’s time for us to pass on the torch.”

In addition to paying homage to St. Martin de Porres, portraits honoring Black Catholics on the road to sainthood were also displayed. The attendees prayed for the causes of canonization for Venerable Henriette Delille, Mother Mary Lange, Venerable Augustus Tolton, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Sister Thea Bowman, and Julia Greeley.

Members of the archdiocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry pose for a photo after attending the 2022 Black Catholic History Month luncheon, held at St. Thomas University on Nov. 19, 2022.

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

Members of the archdiocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry pose for a photo after attending the 2022 Black Catholic History Month luncheon, held at St. Thomas University on Nov. 19, 2022.


Comments from readers

Valli Leone - 11/30/2022 08:30 PM
It was a Gospel-glorious day at the luncheon held at St. Thomas University. I was so glad to have made it that day and to see my dear friend, Floredenis Brown, accept the Saint Martin DePorres award. The people, the food, the music, the colors and the spirit of the Lord made the celebration so memorable and joyful. Now we pray for the six venerable and blessed Black Americans who will hopefully be canonized one day soon. Let it be done, oh Lord, according to your word, your will, and your wonderful love for the universal Body of Christ. Alleluia!