The National Black Catholic Men's Conference will be held in Miami, Florida, from October 5-8, 2017. Register at: 
The cost is $150.00 for adults, $75.00 for College
and High School Students, and $50.00 for youth
ages 8-13.
​ More information is available by contacting Fr. Chester Smith at or 317-259-0144.
Or visit:


Thursday, October 12th/9:00am through
Sunday, October 15th/9:00am

2017 Black Catholic Theological Symposium 
The 2017 BCTS will be held in Castries, St. Lucia, West Indies at the Benedictine Abbey.
Room rate for the Benedictine Abbey is $80.00 per person per night and includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cash and all major credit card payments are accepted onsite. Registration for rooms can be made by emailing: Dr. Nathaniel Samuel:

Registration fee is $100.00.

The Twelfth National Black Catholic Congress Prayer, composed by Bishop Fernand Cheri

Excerpt from the Priest's Prayer Service presented at Congress XII by
Most Reverend Gordon D. Bennett, S.J.

“Give me Jesus”

Most Reverend Gordon D. Bennett, S. J.
Bishop Emeritus of Mandeville

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20   “If someone is in Christ, they are a new creation.  What is old has passed away – look the new has come!  Everything comes from God, who through Christ, reconciled us to himself, and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  That is, that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning their transgressions against them, and putting his message of reconciliation in us.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors: (imagine) that God is pleading to the world through us.”

Dear Brothers and Fellow Ambassadors of Jesus Christ:

We all need to be grateful to Valerie Washington and to all the organizers of the congress for carving out this time in our busy agenda to place ourselves in prayer before the Lord.  When Pope John Paul II wrote to the whole church at the beginning of the third millennium, he empathized that all pastoral planning, just what we are doing here, must come out of an atmosphere of prayer.

And today, most of the vocations which make up the body of Christ (bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, lay women and laymen, and, especially, our young people) are invited to pray together so that the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, will enlighten us on our way, and give us the courage to continue our pilgrimage in this pilgrim church.

As priests, you and are invited to reflect on the particular calling which has been formed in us by the Holy Spirit and confirmed publicly by the Church.  How important it is for us to return quietly, honestly and courageously to our spiritual roots.

We begin begin our reflection with utmost humility, recalling that there were many persons, women and men, that Jesus encountered in the gospels who were more intelligent, more generous, more courageous, more gifted, better leaders and even holier than were the apostles.  And yet, for his own reasons, Jesus chose those twelve with only one thing in mind: he wanted them to be “with him.”  Brothers, you and I are the heirs to that invitation; and we need to acknowledge that even though we ourselves are “beset with weakness”, nevertheless, Jesus has called us to be “with him” in a particularly intimate way.

I hope that our retreat today will help us to focus on our vocation as ambassadors of Christ, as those who have been anointed as both heralds and vessels of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.  The Lord has anointed me.  He has sent me to bring good news.”

​Our vocation as an ambassador means that we are to represent the interests of the one who sends us, that we speak words and do deeds that reflect his vision and his values, and that we need to be in such regular contact with the one who sends to ensure that we are communicating his message and not our own.

A good ambassador, very importantly, is capable of reading the signs of the times in order to adapt the sender’s principles to local and present circumstances.

Let our reflection this morning concentrate on Jesus’ message, on the circumstances in which we find ourselves and our faith today, and on how we can bring Jesus’ message more authentically into the world to which we have been sent.

Brothers, it has to be Jesus we preach and we will never be able to give to others what we do not ourselves have. Above all, our lives as ministers of the gospel mean that we have to have Jesus.

Let us spend a few moments, then, recalling how Jesus trained his ambassadors and his followers, what he told them about his values and his message. In Matthew, chapter 5, Jesus, as the new Moses, speaking as Emmanuel, God’s human face, instructs us as well, beginning the of God pleading to the world through us.

We remember how it begins:

Congratulations to the poor in spirit – theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Congratulations to those who are mourning – they shall be consoled.

Congratulations to the gentle – they shall inherit the earth.

Congratulations to those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness – they shall be satisfied.

Congratulations to those who are merciful – they shall receive mercy.

Congratulations to the pure in heart – they shall see God.

Congratulations to those who create peace – they shall be called children of God.

Congratulations to those who are persecuted because of righteousness – theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Congratulations to you when they reproach you and persecute and falsely talk all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because your reward in heaven is huge. You see, that’s how they persecuted the prophets before you.

That is the portrait of the authentic ambassador, the faithful follower of Jesus. Those are to be our words, those values are to characterize everything we say and everything we do.

Near the end of the chapter, Jesus enunciates two ways his disciples are to announce and to embody a new and a better righteousness. He says: “You’ve heard it said: ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. But I am telling you: don’t resist the evil person. No – whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek to them also; and whoever wants to take you to court and take your tunic, let them have your garment as well. And whoever forces you to walk one Roman mile, go two miles with them. Give to the person who asks you, and don’t turn away the person who wants to borrow from you.”

And then he says: “You have heard that it was said: ‘You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I’m telling you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become children of your Father in heaven, because He makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust. You see – if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t tax collectors do the same? And if you only greet your brothers and sisters, what extra are you doing? Don’t the Gentiles do the same? You are therefore to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.’”

These are such beautiful words; but perhaps our distance from them in time and attention has diminished their power. If we look at the historical context in which these words were spoken, we will realize that the centuries have softened the bite Jesus intended them to have and the shock the disciples and the crowd must have felt upon hearing them. The sermon on the Mount takes place against a background of resistance, violence and chaos. The Jews were slaves in their own land, they had been disenfranchised by a ruthless occupying power and reduced to resentful and unwilling submission.

So this strong and authoritative instruction on mercy to enemies that Jesus gives to his ambassadors and to the crowd not only startled them, it probably also confused, and maybe even infuriated them.

This message seems impossible to obey and to embody today; and yet, we have all seen a most powerful example of it very recently, and it did not come from our Catholic community. It came from the Mother Emanuel AME Church community in Charleston, when they forgave the young man who perpetrated that hateful, monstrous and useless tragedy upon them as they were praying.

This act of fidelity to the gospel was so confusing to most of us that this extraordinary and heroic gesture of mercy was not widely reported in the media, partly because of our culture’s penchant for sensationalizing violence and chaos. We, today, are fairly good at showing our solidarity, our moral outrage and our righteous anger, both in word and deed; but our commitment to the radicality of the gospel is less often discernible. But the other reason for the silence that accompanied the Mother Emanuel grace was that this deed was so bewildering that it became unbelievable.

We ambassadors are called to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect, and, as Pope Francis continues to bring to our attention: the perfection of God is His mercy.

View the full text here.


Thursday, 10/5 through Sunday, 10/8/17
The National Black Catholic Men's Conference 2017 

About the Congress XII Mural

Enzo Selvaggi is a Californian artist and designer who led the team of artists that produced the mural of the Black Madonna placed in the Liturgy Room for the 2017 NBCC.

The mural is painted in the Beuronese style, and when Enzo was asked why he chose to do so, he replied, “The Beuronese style offers a special opportunity for sacred art in the New Evangelization because it proposes a universal compositional substructure of harmony, rhythm, and symmetry.  Upon this substructure a fluid hieratic symbolism can be seamlessly grafted. That symbolism can take many forms, focusing on a particular doctrinal, historic, cultural, or ethnic perspective.” Enzo added, “The Beuronese style is named named after the Benedictine Abbey in Beuron, Germany and was developed by a monk, Desiderius Lentz, at the end of the 19th century.”

In the mural for the National Black Catholic Congress of 2017, a heavenly court of representative Black saints is the focus.  Men and women of varied hue, tongue, nation and era are depicted as they worship the Christ child, Himself enthroned in the loving and nurturing embrace of the Blessed Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom. The words, “she took up the garments of joy” calls to mind the book of Judith, in that great song of praise for the redemption of the children of Israel -- proclaiming their freedom from  the bonds of a cruel and powerful opressor.

Enzo also described the persons represented in the mural, aside from the Madonna, “as the depicted saints who come from divers states of life, many are canonized, some are blessed, and some are neither -- underscoring the universal call to holiness which the Church has communicated to her children since her founding, and reiterated emphatically by the Second Vatican Council.” Some notable persons would be: St. Charles Lwanga and Venerable Henriette Delille among those officially recognised by Rome. Daniel Rudd, Thea Bowman and Cyprian Davis help represent those who are well known for their holiness and contribution to the Church, but not yet officially.

Neighbor helping neighbor. Father Enrique Camacho, executive director of Caritas Puerto Rico, took to the air via a National Guard of Puerto Rico helicopter and delivered food, water, solar lamps, batteries and other supplies to the main office of Catholic Charities of the U.S. Virgin Islands (CCVI) on St. Thomas. Andrea Shillingford, executive director of CCVI, received the supplies gratefully on behalf of the people. She said that they do not feel alone because of the big and wonderful family they have in Catholic Charities. ¡Gran trabajo Padre!

16. Mother Mary Theodore Williams (with the distinctive pectoral cross of the original habit
17. Venerable Henriette Delille (with the Cord of the Seven Sorrows of St. Joseph worn of the original habit)
18. St. Josephine Bakhita (with the distinctive bonnet of the Canossian Sisters)
19. Father Augustus Tolton
20. Father Cyprian Davis
21. Venerable Pierre Toussaint

Meet Fr. Tolton face-to-face in this exciting new multimedia theater production based on the amazing true story of Fr. Augustus Tolton, the first African American priest. Be riveted by his dramatic escape from slavery, encouraged by his struggle against prejudice, and transformed by his message of reconciliation and hope.

Fr. Tolton's canonization cause is monumental - he could become the first African American saint! 

You can bring Tolton to your community!
Contact Saint Luke Productions to see how your group
can experience this wonderful drama.

Visit to learn more.

​​Thursday, 10/4/6:00pm-10:00pm

4th Annual Heal Benefit

Croatian Franciscans

4846 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL

Fr. George Clements and Deacon Leo Okonkwo, keynote speakers. Also featuring Sr. Rachael Ulor and Srt Ann Okweji.

$50 Admission, includes dinner and live entertainment. RSVP by Oct. 2.
​Nick Costello 312-952-4855

About the artist and the concept for the mural 

Join us in prayer for the victims of recent hurricanes

Monday,  September 18th/7:00pm through
Tuesday, September 19th/7:00pm

Revival Praise & Worship
St. Ailbe Church, S Stony Island Ave
E 91st St, Chicago, IL 60617

Join St. Ailbe, St. Felicitas & St. Joachim Churches as they welcome Revival Preacher, Reverend Roy Lee
For information: 773-374-2345

Saturday, September 23rd/8:30am-4:30pm

Tolton Chicago Pilgrimage
Pastoral Center, 3525 S Lake Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60653
What would Fr. Tolton say to Catholics in Chicago today?
Join Bishop Joseph Perry on a historic pilgrimage that journeys through historic Bronzeville, the ministerial home of Servant of God Fr. Augustus Tolton and includes many other important historical stops.
Cost: $100.00 (includes materials, lunch in Bronzeville and transportation to all sites). 
Registration deadline is September 8, 2017.

And, of course, our founder!

October 2017

September 2017

Detail of Mother Mary Lange, shown in the bonnet of the Oblate Sisters of Providence.

Type your paragraph here.

Detail of the Christ child enthroned in the loving and nurturing embrace of the Blessed Virgin.

Book a Show Now!

Mural designer and artist, Enzo Selvaggi and his family pictured standing next to Bishop Joseph Perry.

Tolton | Saint Luke Productions
Saint Luke Productions
Now Booking Tolton
  Now Booking Shows
in 2017-2018
  Experience hope and healing in the riveting true story of America's
first Black priest.
Contact St. Luke Productions
to schedule a performance
for your community!

  "We need this production on Father Tolton to inspire a new era of peace, hope and forgiveness in America."  
  ~ Bishop Joseph Perry, Chicago

We welcome you to submit your upcoming events!

We would love to include your parish activities, upcoming organizational conferences, or arch/diocesan events. Please email your information to: and feel free to attach a pdf of your flier, advertisement, or logo for us to include.

Congress XII Prayer Cards

You asked for the prayer cards that were included in the Congress XII conference bags, and we are happy to provide you with the PDF files and give permission for you to print and distribute them to others in your organizations, arch/dioceses, or parishes.

A crucifix at the Basilica of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Credit: Nheyob via Wikimedia Commons

Detail of Fr. Augustus Tolton, recognized as the first African American priest in the United States.

The National Black Catholic Congress, Inc.

Calendar of Events​​

CCUSA has deployed its Mobile Response Center (MRC) vehicle to Texas. It is currently in Houston, Texas, assisting with response efforts.

Donations to CCUSA’s Disaster Relief will be used to support Catholic Charities agencies’ efforts to assist families and individuals with shelter, food, and other r

Our agencies provide essential support before, during and after disasters hit. In fact, long-term recovery is an integral part of Catholic Charities’ holistic approach and we work tirelessly to ensure individuals can live their lives with the dignity we all deserve. This service is provided to the community regardless of religion, social or economic background. 

October 2017

​Almighty God, we come to you with heavy hearts for all those communities affected by these storms.
While it’s tempting to ask you “Why did this happen?”, we humbly submit to your will and instead ask, ​Lord, for you to be a beacon of hope among the wreckage.

Grant safety to the men, women, and little children navigating the dangerous flood waters. Strengthen local clergy and parishioners as they provide shelter and aid for their communities. Specifically, give wisdom and present resources to pastors and lay leaders working to provide for the physical needs of those who have lost homes, precious belongings, and are possibly separated from their loved ones. Give them courage to minister to the spiritual needs as well.

No doubt considerable fear and anxiety haunt those in affected areas. Grant unshakable peace and rid this storm’s victims of the spirit of fear. Show us all how to respond to the needs of those struggling with frustration and fear, that we may serve you well through your son Jesus Christ.

​Catholic Relief Services Hurricane Response

Please note: 100 percent of funds raised will go directly towards disaster relief efforts

Rebuilt from the ashes: The story of an American basilica
By Adelaide Mena

Norfolk, Virginia, Jul 4, 2017 / 03:41 am (CNA).- An immigrant parish, burnt down, with only the crucifix remaining. A parish rebuilt, transformed and a key part in giving back to the community. In a sense, one parish’s story of struggle, pressure and rebirth is metaphor for the American Catholic experience.

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk, Virginia, is the only black Catholic church in the United States that is also a basilica. Its dramatic history captures both the broader American Catholic history of persecution, growth and acceptance, but also a witness to the unique challenges faced by black Catholics over the centuries.

Founded originally as St. Patrick’s Parish in 1791, it is the oldest Catholic parish in the Diocese of Richmond, predating the foundation of the diocese by nearly 30 years.
Full story...

The National Black Catholic Congress | 320 Cathedral St. Baltimore, MD 21201 | 410-547-8496
© 2017 The National Black Catholic Congress, All Rights Reserved

                         From the NBCC

                                 President, Bishop
                                 John Ricard, SSJ
​                         NBCC Post-

                         ​Congress XII                            Focus

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I wish to express my gratitude to all of you for making the Congress XII event, “The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me: act justly, love goodness, and walk humbly with your God,” which occurred last month in Orlando, Florida, an overwhelmingly successful event.

From the seemingly insignificant details to those large events that defined the spirit of the gathering, I am confident that you will agree with me that Congress XII was affirming, rewarding and timely. 

However, since Congress XII, we have witnessed events in Charlottesville, Virginia and other parts of the country. We have witnessed the response of the leadership of our country to these events. It is very clear that it is incumbent on us to take those steps that we dared dream about and envisioned during Congress XII. We must implement and realize this vision of Congress in our Church and society, which was given to us by Christ in His Gospel. The vision of a Church and community which is open to all and to which all are affirmed. 

Having listened carefully to the attendees’ responses and the calls for leadership, as well as continued discussions about a meaningful follow-up to the vision of Orlando, we are laying out some of the steps that we will be taking in the days and months ahead.

1.   The development of the Pastoral Plan of Action: We ask that you be attentive to the development of the Pastoral Plan of Action, and conscientiously study and apply its guidelines as they apply to your homes, parishes, dioceses, and organizations as appropriate. As you know, this document is currently being prepared by a committee formed during Congress XII and will be made available soon. Any comments or suggestions regarding the Pastoral Plan of Action can be emailed to Fr. Stephen Thorne at To read the Preamble to the Pastoral Plan of Action, go to:

2.    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Racism, which is being developed and presented to them at their November 2018 meeting.  We can provide support to this important and long anticipated message by taking the initiative to read and reflect upon it, and then by engaging in the efforts to implement its vision (to be outlined in its study guide).

3.    The development of the Congress website, ( to assist with offering guidance and direction. Following a process that was developed before Congress XII, the NBCC will announce a series of webinars that will explore a wide variety of issues, especially those that were highlighted at Congress XII in Orlando. These webinars will be a forum for further discussion and development of the issues.

The topics may include the following:

  • Mass Incarceration. What does it mean?  What are its effects on the Black community, the Black family and Black employment?  What are some positive steps we can take at the local, state and national levels?
  • Domestic Violence.  When and why does it happen? How can we prevent it from happening?  What are its particular effects on Black family life?  What response is best from individuals and parishes to address it?   What steps can we take now?
  • Youth and Young Adults.  Where are they as we look at Sunday Mass and parish activities?  How can we develop more welcoming parishes?
  • Developing Black Spirituality.  Beginning with the African American Catholic Youth Bible, we need to continue to explore the use of symbolic language and culture that directly affect the everyday lives of Black Catholics.
  • Social Justice.  Why it is important to secure and preserve rights and responsibilities for people pushed to the margins. How can we advocate for issues that affect African American people in disproportionately adverse ways? What national issues are on the horizon that require our attention, i.e. voter suppression, housing, and education?
  • The Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Congress will begin to explore ways to offer consultation and support to this new and timely committee of the USCCB.

4.    Offering a Series of Seminars and Workshops.  These will be directed to the clergy, consecrated religious, and to the laity.

These are the steps that we will take at this time.  We welcome your suggestions of any additional steps that should or could be taken. Please feel free to respond to this letter on our webpage, or directly to the Congress office.  

With every best wish, I am sincerely yours,
John H. Ricard
Bishop John H. Ricard, S.S.J.
President, The National Black Catholic Congress

​​Key to the Mural's Important Black Catholics

A. The Madonna and Child
B. Angel of the Passion bearing Shackles
C. Angel of of the Passion bearing the Door of Goree Island

1. Saint Peter Claver (with Jesuit Cape)
2. Saint Charles Lwanga (with Palm of Martyrdom and Kufi-Crowm
     of Martyrdom)
3. Julia Greeley (with whip that tore out her right eye)
4. Daniel Rudd
5. Mother Mary Lang (with original bonnet of the Oblate Sisters
    of Providence habit)
6. Saint Katherine Drexel
7. Father John Plantevigne
8. Roberto Clemente
9. Sister  Thea Bowman
10. Archbishop James Lyke (with Mitre)
11. King Afonso of the Congo (with crown)
12. Jemmy, aka, Cato of Stono River (with Rosary in hand)
13. Saint Martin de Porres
14. Mother Ursula of Jesus (with Rosary necklace)
15. Bishop Harold Perry (with Mitre)

We welcome your event submissions! Please email details of your upcoming events to

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"Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" "Here I am," I said, "Send me!" Isaiah 6:8