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The Underground Railroad in African American History

Pope Francis: Putting Jesus in the midst of the people

Pope Francis celebrated Mass Feb. 2 with consecrated men and women.

‘Stand for What You Believe In’ is theme for national day of prayer

By Catholic News Service • Posted February 3, 2017

NEW YORK (CNS) — For the 29th year in a row, people of all faiths are urged to observe a national day of prayer for the African-American family Feb. 5 as part of Black History Month, observed every February.

The tradition of declaring the first Sunday of February as the prayer day was begun in 1989 by Franciscan Father James E. Goode, one of the nation’s leading African-American Catholic evangelists.

Visitors to the website of Solid Ground,, will find a link to a brochure, a prayer and further information to share with others. Father Goode is pastoral director of Solid Ground, a Franciscan ministry with African-American families. The priest also is the founder and president of the National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life.

“Stand for What You Believe In” is the theme of this year’s prayer. The prayer brochure suggests families worship together “at the eucharistic table,” pray as a family, celebrate a meal together and “tell your family story.”

It also suggests families set aside time to discuss together “what you are willing to stand for,” such as respect for life; justice and peace; “the end of racism and hate”; the end of abortion “and all acts of violence”; respect for the elderly, women and children; and for the protection of the environment and all creation. “Or pledge to stand with the poor and oppressed, the forgotten, unwanted and unwelcome,” it says.

The prayer, composed by Father Goode, reads in part: “God of mercy and love, we place our African-American and African families before you today. May we be proud of our history and never forget those who paid a great price for our liberation. Bless us one by one and keep our hearts and minds fixed on higher ground. Help us to live for you and not for ourselves, and may we cherish and proclaim the gift of life.”

In addition to Solid Ground and the National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life, several other groups are supporters of the special day of prayer, including the Black and Indian Mission Office, the Josephites, the Society of the Divine Word, the Order of Friars Minor, the Archdiocese of New York’s Office of Black Ministry, the Venerable Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Fund, the Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, the National Black Sisters’ Conference and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church.

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The Underground Railroad, a network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals -- many whites but predominently black -- who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. It effectively moved hundreds of slaves northward each year -- as many as 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850.

This system to assist runaway slaves seems to have begun towards the end of the 18th century. The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed "The Underground Railroad," after the then emerging steam railroads. The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were called "stations" and "depots" and were run by "stationmasters," those who contributed money or goods were "stockholders," and the "conductor" was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next. 

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Pope Francis has named Rev. Roy Edward Campbell, Jr, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, DC. 

​Bishop-elect Roy E. Campbell, Jr., was born on November 19, 1947 to Roy Edward Campbell, Sr. and Julia Ann (Chesley) Campbell, and has been a life-long member of the Archdiocese of Washington. He was baptized at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Indian Head, MD, received his First Holy Communion in 1956 at Saint Cyprian Church in Southeast Washington and the Sacrament of Confirmation in 1959 at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Northwest Washington.

He attended Bruce Elementary Public School and for seventh and eighth grade, he attended Shrine of the Sacred Heart School in Washington. He is a 1965 graduate of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington. Father Campbell majored in Zoology, with minors in Anthropology and Chemistry at Howard University, before leaving to work at Suburban Trust Company as a teller in order to continue to pay his way to complete his studies. Campbell earned a graduate degree in retail banking from the Consumer Bankers Association’s Graduate School of Retail Bank Management at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, and worked in the retail banking industry in the Washington-Baltimore area until taking early retirement in 2002.

Throughout his life, Father Campbell was an active Catholic both in parishes and the broader Washington-area community, serving as a lector and usher at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, as a member on the Pastoral and Finance Councils. He also had an interest at a young age in a vocation to the priesthood.

“Upon graduating from the eighth grade, Capuchin Friars invited me to join other boys for part of the summer at their seminary, outside Pittsburgh. I enjoyed my stay with them, but was not ready to commit to attending seminary high school. However, the crucifix that I purchased there at age 13 still hangs on the wall of my bedroom,” he said.

A turning point for Father Campbell occurred in December of 1995, while leaving work in Baltimore. He passed a person on the street begging for food, and he took him to get something to eat. “What he said to me I have never forgotten, ‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you?’ Campbell recalled. “My answer to him is just as memorable, ‘I try to be.’ I saw Jesus in that man, as clearly as I saw the man himself. That encounter started my reflecting on my relationship with Jesus in a very different way.”

In 1999, Campbell entered the archdiocese’s permanent diaconate program in the Class of 2004’s Aspirant Year. During that time, he assisted in planning and serving in liturgies, tutoring grade school children through St. Gabriel parish’s Petworth Youth Program, volunteered at Bethlehem House with adults who had physical and learning disabilities, and at the Joseph P. Kennedy Institute with children who had emotional and learning disabilities.

In January 2003, Campbell entered Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary to begin his priestly formation, and completed his seminary studies at in 2007, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree. He was ordained into the priesthood on May 26, 2007 by Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

Father Campbell’s first parish assignment was as parochial vicar at Saint Augustine parish in Washington 2007 to 2008, while also taking care of the sacramental needs of Immaculate Conception parish in Washington for six months. He was appointed pastor of Assumption Catholic Church in southeast Washington in 2008, and in 2010 was appointed to his current assignment, as pastor of Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Largo.

In addition to being the pastor of Saint Joseph’s, he has served as dean of Middle Prince George’s County, and is a member of the Clergy Personnel Board, Vocations Board and College of Consultors.

Father Campbell has three brothers, Roscoe William, Rodney Jerome and Robert, and two sisters, Cynthia and Darlene and his mother, Elizabeth (Barbour) Campbell. Rev. Campbell’s father, Mr. Roy Edward Campbell, Sr., passed away in 2007. Rev. Campbell is the proud uncle of eight nieces, five nephews, six grandnephews and two grandnieces.