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African American Catholics to share their gifts at two events

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SAN DIEGO – The Diocesan Commission for African American Catholics is presenting two events to share their spiritual, cultural and social justice gifts with the entire community.
On Jan. 19, the commission is sponsoring a Mass to promote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Call to Service.”
And on the nights of Feb. 3, 4 and 5, the commission is presenting its 40th annual The Revival, a joyous, moving celebration of black spirituality.
“Most people don’t know what it means to be black and Catholic,” said Jo Hart, the commission’s president. “Africans who became part of the U.S. Catholic Church brought their spiritual and cultural gifts. We want people to know them.”
The commission’s mission is to celebrate, support and share black spirituality through liturgical and social justice activities as a way to evangelize.
Bishop Robert W. McElroy will celebrate the Mass on Sunday, Jan. 19, at 10 a.m. at St. Rita’s Parish in Southeastern San Diego (5124 Churchward St.). A longtime member of the commission, Deacon Marvin Threatt, will serve as the homilist.
It’s the first time the commission is presenting an event celebrating Dr. King, one its members hope will become an annual one.
“We want to empower everyone to follow Dr. King’s example,” she said. “He was a civil rights activist for everybody not just for the black community.”
The following month, the commission will present The Revival, a joyous mixture of preaching and Gospel music that invites the people in the pews to sing and clap along. This year’s theme, “God’s a Callin’, #AreYouListening,” especially invites young African American Catholics “because they are the future of our Church,” as Hart put it.
The event will be held at Holy Spirit Parish (2725 55th St.), from 7-9 p.m. on Feb. 3, 4 and 5, the latter focused on families. Hart said that night will feature a special prayer by the elders for the youth.
The commission invites an African American priest prominent in the U.S. Catholic Church to lead the three nights. This year, it’s featuring Jesuit Father Joseph A. Brown, Ph.D.
He has an extensive academic career that includes teaching at Creighton University, the University of Virginia, Xavier University, Southern University at New Orleans and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where he serves as professor in the Africana Studies Department.
He lectures across the country on African and African American spirituality, history and culture, and serves as a liturgical consultant to a variety of communities. And he’s an author of poems, articles, chapters and books. Father Brown publishes a blog with his poetry and writings, The Sankofa Muse (sankofamuse.blogspot.com).
“Father Brown will bring his high-energy teaching and preaching perspective,” Hart said.
The Revival shares the roots of African American spirituality and music. The first night will feature St. Rita’s Choir, to be followed the next night by the Christ the King Choir, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir will perform on the final night.
“Gospel singing and black spirituals express who we are,” Hart said. “God has a variety of ways to show people how to nurture their faith.”
More information about both of these events may be found by contacting Alejandra Diaz at adiaz@sdcatholic.com.

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