National Black and Indian Mission, NABCA address evangelization

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Over 40  leaders in the black Catholic community, representing over 20 dioceses and archdioceses across the United States, met March 16-17 for “Building Relationships for the Future.”
The event was sponsored by the National Black and Indian Mission and the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators, whose  annual spring meeting also took place that weekend, according to a press release.
Participants discussed collaborative ways to address the future of evangelization in the black community and solutions for financial resources for the ministry. James Watts, director of the Birmingham diocese’s office of Black Catholic Ministry, hosted the group.
The historical gathering between the two national organizations was the idea of Father Wayne Paysse, executive director for the Black and Indian Mission.
Kathleen Merritt, NABCA president and director of ethnic ministries in the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., and Father Vernon Hugley, vicar for black Catholics in the Diocese of Birmingham, helped create an agenda for professional growth and collaboration. It included a panel discussion on the Black and Indian Mission; presentations on Web sites as evangelization tools; resources for creating better understanding of the purpose, structures and importance of maintaining black ministry under emerging diocesan models of multicultural ministries; and the role of stewardship, leadership development and collaboration in developing a strong foundation for evangelization.
During a panel discussion on the allocation of funds, Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham stressed the critical need and importance of providing financial support for Catholic schools in the African-American community. He said generous grants from the mission have assisted in keeping the doors of many of these schools open.
Participants agreed to work on increasing stewardship, especially from the African-American Catholic community.
Father Paysse affirmed the efforts being made in the few remaining historically black Catholic schools to maintain their Catholic identity, academic excellence, support from the community and financial viability.
“An increase in support to the mission will result in an increase in support to the various evangelization programs in the African American community,” he said.
Since 1884, proceeds from the Black and Indian Missions Collection have been distributed as grants to dioceses that support and strengthen evangelization programs, which would otherwise be in danger of disappearing among the Black, American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleute communities.
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