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Special Mass to Commemorate Dr. King’s Call to Service


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SAN DIEGO — On the third Monday in January, the U.S. observes Martin Luther King Day, the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage everyone to volunteer to improve their community.

The Diocesan Commission for African American Catholics invites all people to its third annual Special Mass on Jan. 16 to Commemorate Dr. King’s Call to Service, to be celebrated by Bishop Robert McElroy at St. Rita’s Church.

Deacon Marvin Threatt, a founding member of the commission, said Dr. King’s vision of an equal, just society for all “is needed now more than ever.”

He noted that there has been significant social progress in the nearly 60 years since Dr. King galvanized the civil rights movement, leading to the passing of landmark civil and voting rights legislation.

“But we have seen a decline in democracy in the last few years, and that affects all Americans, not just African Americans,” he said. “We have to continue to invoke Dr. King’s call for justice, equality and service.” 

For people of faith, a commitment to service means living the Gospel in daily life.

“It’s wishing the same good things for others as we wish for ourselves, as the Gospel calls us to do,” Deacon Threatt said. “It’s wanting justice for others as we want for ourselves.”

The Mass will be at 10 a.m. at St. Rita’s Church, located at 5124 Churchward Street in Southeastern San Diego, with parking across the street. 

The Diocesan Commission for African American Catholics, one of the oldest cultural organizations in the diocese, works to share Black spirituality and to promote social justice. It’s part of the diocese’s Office for Ethnic and Intercultural Communities, which launched a project in 2019, “Working Together to Overcome Racism,” to raise awareness of racism in society, including in the Church, and to propose ways to root it out. More information is available at

More information about the Jan. 16 Mass is available at (858) 490- 8306 or at

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