Day of reflection focuses on inspirational saints

COLUMBIA—The annual Black Catholic Day of Reflection was a chance to reflect on holy people from the past and learn how to build a better future for the Church.

About 170 people attended the June 28 event held at St. Martin de Porres Church and sponsored by the Office of Ethnic Ministries. The theme was “Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk: On the Path to Sainthood.”

Father Michael Okere, vicar for black Catholics, began the day with a discussion of four leaders currently being considered for sainthood: Venerable Pierre Toussaint, a freed slave and philanthropist known for his charitable work in New York;  Venerable Henriette DeLille, founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family; Father Augustus Tolton, the first black priest ordained in the U.S.; and Elizabeth Clarisse Lange, also known as Mother Mary Lange, who founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence.
He encouraged the crowd to learn about these men and women, pray for their canonization and use their examples to advance the faith at the parish level.


“The history of the Church tells us about the efforts people like this made so we can have what we have today,” Father Okere said. “We need to remember these men and women because we can see the face of God through them. The life of a saint is about doing simple things extraordinarily, and we can use these examples to help us with evangelization. Our children will learn about them and know we have a history in the Catholic Church.”

Music played a big part in the event, as the crowd learned about different styles available in the latest edition of “Lead Me Guide Me,” a hymnal especially designed for historically black parishes.

Aaron Mathews, a musician from Columbia, and Charlton Singleton, director of music at St. Patrick Church in Charleston, showed participants how everything from traditional spirituals and hymns to more contemporary gospel music could be used in worship.

Discussion also focused on a pastoral plan for evangelization of African Americans in the diocese, and discussed strategies for promoting holiness in daily life, the dignity of the human person, more effective worship and evangelization, and outreach to children, teens and young adults.

Barbara Downs of Columbia said the day provided a good opportunity to think about ways to keep the Church a vital and important presence in the community.

“It’s good to see black Catholics getting together, being rejuvenated and awakening, and it’s good to see young people getting rejuvenated,” she said. “That’s our job as parents and grandparents. God put us here to make sure these babies get back to church.”