Sacred Heart Parish in Richmond focused
its celebrations of Black History Month every Sunday morning in February. Each
week featured the Mass
Dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man by the Rev. Clarence Joseph Rivers, the first African-American
priest ordained in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. An internationally known
composer of American Catholic music, Fr. Rivers was a pioneering force in the
Catholic liturgical movement of post-Vatican II. He believed that a worshipping
congregation should participate in liturgies that were inspiring - not dull. He
spent his priestly life teaching Catholics how to be fully engaged in their
worship during Mass. Gospel and Spirituals, appropriate to the day’s readings,
completed the repertoire.
- Feb. 5: Sister Cora
Billings, RSM, great grand-daughter of a Georgetown slave, shared her
experiences of “growing up Black and Catholic” and her life-long struggle
against racism and inequality.
- Feb. 12: Mr. Richard
D’Abreu, Director of Music Ministry at Second Baptist Church and a professional
jazz saxophonist, accompanied the choir, added a special spirit to the music
and addressed the congregation on inclusionary music in the liturgy. After Mass,
Ms. Beverly Ross, chair of the Black History Month Committee addressed this
year’s theme—The Power of Black Education.
- Feb. 19: Fr. Mario
Powell, SJ, Director of the REACH program at Regis High School, celebrated and
preached. He focused on the gospel mandate to “love your enemy” from the
Ignatian perspective of conversion of heart. His personal examples touched the
hearts of the congregation.
- Feb. 26: Black History Month
Celebrations concluded with a “soul food” breakfast after Mass in
the Hall of All Nations.
Sacred Heart Parish,
known for its majority Latino congregation, is also home to a growing
multi-cultural, English-speaking worshipping community.