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Busy Black History Month Concludes at Sacred Heart

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.

Other celebrations included:

  • 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.





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Situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, Loyola Retreat House is located 35 miles south of Washington, D.C., in southern Maryland.