Cultural Diversity: Celebrating our diversity and Black Catholic heritage

Fri, Nov 16th 2018 01:00 pm
Director, Office of Cultural Diversity
Milagros Ramos
Milagros Ramos

Our church in the Diocese of Buffalo and throughout the United States is already diverse and becoming more diverse every day. This past October, we gathered with over 3,500 Catholic Hispanics leaders from around the United States for the V National Encuentro working toward a better way to serve this growing population.  Looking at ways we can all work together as we move forward into the future of the Church in the United States.

This November we will be celebrating National Black Catholic History month. It is an opportunity for us to embrace the African-American Catholics in our diocese by learning more about the lives and experiences they share with the Church and committing to listen to these experiences with open mind and heart. If you don't have diversity in our parish, look at ways to partner up with a neighboring parish. Take time to pray together and to listen to each other. Make it a time to go deeper than just the sharing of food and dance. Don't get me wrong. That could be part of it too but the shared conversations are so important in learning more about each other.      

Two parishes in our diocese that did just that are St. Martin de Porres in Buffalo and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Harris Hill. They took time off to have listening sessions and candid conversations.  These listening sessions help us to understand each other better. To grow in our relationships together require pure, honest, sometimes painful and loving communication. It is through these types of experiences that we can build a more vibrant diverse Church celebrating the gift of its diversity and its unity in the Body of Christ.      

We are the Body of Christ so if one part is hurting we are all hurting and we need to work toward its healing. God has the power of transforming the hurt of one person for the development and growth of another person. It is through this transformation that the person who is hurt is healed and both people can walk together stronger and can celebrate our unity in diversity.

We are who we are today because of our lived experiences in family, church, school, communities and world. Racism always has existed, but it seems every day we hear about situations that are very troubling. People yelled at for speaking another language, people not let in their own apartments by others who don't think they belong there because of the color of their skin. We are all children of God. As St. Teresa of Calcutta has taught us we must love one person at a time and that is the person who is in front of you.   

On Nov. 4, the African-American Commission of the diocese celebrated National Black Catholic History Month at St. Martin de Porres with Mass, a slide show presentation on the History of Black Catholics in the United States, a one Act play by Mary Craig on the life of Sister Thea Bowman, and a reception.

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