Black Catholic administrators discuss the future of their ministries

GREENVILLE — Kathleen Merritt, director of the Office of Ethnic Ministries for the Diocese of Charleston, got a glimpse of the future when she met with nearly 40 of her peers at the National Association of Black Cath-olic Administrators (NABCA). The annual meeting was held in September in Buffalo, N.Y.

The main items on NABCA’s agenda this year were the major issues affecting black Catholics in the United States, such as declining diocesan budgets, a significant increase in the closing or consolidating of offices for their ministry, and better ways to serve their constituents and local bishops under these difficult circumstances.

“This was a major event for black Catholics because the organization discussed the future of black Catholic offices across the U.S. and how more dioceses are opting to move toward multicultural offices,” Merritt said.

A sponsoring organization of the National Black Catholic Congress, NABCA continued an animated discussion of the eight principals of the congress’s pastoral plan and its implementation progress.

NABCA members participated in a community service project, a signature piece of the organization’s annual meeting, as a way of giving back to the local community in which they meet.

This year, they offered their services to Buffalo’s inner-city Catholic Central School.

Members also conducted various workshops for students, faculty and staff based on the theme “Respect.”

Bishop Henry J. Mansell of Buffalo welcomed the participants.

The bishop expressed his enthusiasm for the National Black Catholic Congress and delight that the Diocese of Buffalo had been selected to host Congress X in 2007.

This was an NABCA election year and new officers were selected by the membership.

They include M. Annette Mandley-Turner, Archdiocese of Louisville, president; Ralph McCloud, Diocese of Fort Worth, vice president; Vanessa Griffin Campbell, Diocese of Cleveland, secretary; and Tracey Battles, Archdiocese of Newark, treasurer.

NABCA will meet in the Archdiocese of Newark in 2004.