November is Black Catholic History Month! We honor African men and women who were pioneers of the Faith and whose imprint is indelibly a part of who we are – all of us – as Christians.
The National Black Clergy Caucus of the United States initiated the recognition in 1990 and the Church has celebrated Black Catholic History Month since that time. November was chosen because it holds special days of recognition two prominent African saints: St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Martin de Porres. We also celebrate “All Saints Day” and “All Souls Day” in November the perfect remembrance of our African ancestors in the church.
Some ask why it matters? Aren’t we all the same in God’s sight? Should we still single out one people for celebration and, in doing so, do we “separate” ourselves further? Not at all… to “include” oneself does not denigrate another. It only insures the representation of a true picture of God’s chosen.
When most, if not all, popular pictures depict Jesus and the Disciples, the angels and the saints as European, how will our children know of the African’s role in the founding of Christianity? Lest we forget that Christianity did not start in Europe but in Alexandria in northern Egypt.
As the largest African American congregation within the Diocese of Charlotte, let’s challenge ourselves to learn more about those who came before us...from Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil, the United States, North Carolina and here in Charlotte. Let’s begin by remembering:
November 1 - All Saints Day and the lives of the hundreds of African saints that lived in the first 300 years of the Church
November 2 -All Souls Day and all those Africans that were lost to cruelty and inhumanity of the Middle Passage
November 3 - The Feast of St. Martin de Porres, canonized by Pope John XXIII for exemplifying God’s love for all people regardless of their station in life.
November 13 - Commemoration of the birth of St. Augustine of Hippo – the first Doctor of the Church.