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Leaders attend National Black Catholic Congress


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SAN DIEGO — Four leaders of the diocese’s African American Catholic community attended the National Black Catholic Congress in Maryland.

The congress is held every five years to develop a pastoral plan and to celebrate the community’s faith and culture.

The San Diego delegation was made up of Rick Stewart, chair of the Diocesan Commission for African American Catholics, Deacons Marvin Threatt and Robert Booth, Selma Johnson, and Charlotte Fajardo, from the diocese’s Office for Ethnic and Intercultural Communities.

The 13th congress, which had as a theme “Write the Vision: A Prophetic Call to Thrive,” was held July 20 to 23 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland. The event had adult and youth tracks and included plenary and breakout sessions. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, from Washington, D.C., delivered the keynote address.

The gathering was organized by the National Black Catholic Congress, which represents African American Catholics and their affiliated organizations.

Johnson is a long-time leader of the African American Catholic community in San Diego. She attended the congress four or five times in the 1970s and 1980s, sometimes taking her niece, nephew and son to them.

“I was amazed at all the black priests, religious and people that were there at one time,” she recalled in a phone interview days before leaving for this year’s congress. “You didn’t see that many in those days.”

She wanted to go to add her voice to the conversations about the future of the black Catholic community.

“If we don’t speak up now, when are we going to speak?”

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