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August 14, 1992     The Message
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August 14, 1992

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ust 14, 1992 The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 3 Black Catholic (;ongress stirs enthusiasm By PAUL R. LEINGANG Message editor A monih after the Seventh /ational Black Congress in h/ew Orleans, members of the tlelbgation from the Diocese of Evansville are enthusiastic about their experience, and about what it means for the hture. Establishing a "Rites of Pas- sage" program is one of the hopes of Latoski McCarty, a delegate to the Congress. She also hopes all churches with African American members in the diocese will be able to work and celebrate together. Delegates from the diocese included McCarty, Harold Jackson, Enid Willis and Joe from the Diocese of Evansville attending the Na- Black Catholic Congress are Joseph Peaches, Enid illis, Doretha Moore, Latoski McCarty and Harold Jackson. age 1 In their earliest years, the isters came to St. Joseph Church, Jasper and other Communities in what is now the Diocese of Evansville. By 856, the sisters had estab- 18 missions in Indiana including Jasper, Vin- ennes, Montgomery and lle. Sisters of Providence con- tinue to serve in the diocese today, as teachers, counselors and ministers to the people of Southwestern Indiana. The fe of their foundress is now aid up as an example not nly to them but to everyone Who seeks after God. "Mother Theodore's life can offer inspiration to the many people today who come from family backgrounds that seem to crush rather than en- courage growth and develop- ment," said Sister Nolan. "Her experiences transcend time and place and speak to our own hearts and minds of how to meet the failures and fears in our own lives." Feature information was provided by Marilyn Bisch, media relations manager, in the Office of Congregational Advancement, with the Sis- ters of Providence. I "Funeral Pre-Planning Since1940" t ] [ Miller & Mdler 424-9274 MASS OF THE DEAF Nativity Catholic Church 3635 Pollack Ave. Voice: 476-7186 TrY: 476-4646 1st Saturday of each month  5:00 p.m. Followed by Pitch-In Dinner, Fun& Games Every other weekend on Sunday, 1t :00 a.m. St. Fe'rtihdnd, Ferdinand, IN  :" ' 367-1212 Every Saturday, Except 1st. Sat., 5:00 p.m. ' VOICE AND AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE Peaches, all from St. John Church, Evansville, and Doretha Moore, of St. Bene- dict Church, Evansville. Also attending were St. John Church staff members and delegates' family members, a total of 21 persons who trav- eled together by bus to the congress. Harold Jackson described the congress with enthusi- asm, as "the first time I had ever seen that many Black Catholics together." The congress was held in New Or- leans, July 9-12. The number of bishops who attended, the opportu- nity to talk with other Black Catholics from around the country, and the amount of preparation that went into the congress -- all these im- pressed Jackson. He said he was looking forward to seeing the Rites of Passage imple- mented in Evansville. The strongest impression of the congress for Doretha Moore was the emphasis on the family, and the impor- tance of keeping the tradition of the Black family in the Catholic Church. Having a strong family is not only a European tradition, she said. Family values must be up- held within the family and extended to the community, according to Moore. She also noted that among the contributions of African Americans to the Catholic Church was "lending flavor and excitement" to liturgical celebrations. Moore and other delegates noted that the opening liturgy at the congress was somewhat "stilted" and the bishops seemed "reserved." At the closing liturgy, the bishops "loosened up" and partici- pated. Delegates from the diocese included a teenager, Joe Peaches and a grandmother, Enid Willis -- the age range was another plus, and the in- clusion of young persons was very important, according to Moore. Enid willis was "very im- pressed to see so many peo- ple." Noting the relatively small number of Black Catholics in southwestern ln- ..... diana, sh,e said it was easy not to be' aware that "there are so many dedicated, tal- ented Black Catholics." Willis was born in Jamaica and raised as an Anglican. She lived in London where she married her American husband. Th'e congress "awakened our conscious- ness," she said. "A lot of us had become Indo-Europeans," she said. "We were complacent, in a rut." Willis, grandmother of six,- said the congress emphasized the need to relate to young people. "When my kids were grow- ing up, an older lady across the street had my permission to Correct my children if I was .,not there," .she com- mented. "Now, people are afraid to do that." : Willis said that in the cona- munitv and in the Church, "We n;,e(t to get back to that extended family." Jos,ph 1 ca(:hcs said the workshops he attended at the congress motivated him to see everything from a differ- ent perspective. He said he enjoyed the focus on the fam- ily, and especially on the Black Male. Peaches and other dele- gates said they appreciated the new or renewed sense of Black history and tradition they felt as a result of the congress. McCarty noted that African Americans are often thought of as recent converts to Catholicism when in fact, Catholicism in Africa was es- tablished long before there was an America. She said the sense of his- tory she regained at the congress will have a strong impact on what she does as a catechist  giving her an op- portunity to tell the history that has not been told. McCarty and Willis both noted that the presence of many young people at the congress was "encouraging." The delegates also ex- pressed appreciation for the participation of the bishops at the congress, and for the par- ticipation of the clergy and parish staff from Evansville. Among the speakers at the congress was Auxiliary Bishop Carl A. Fisher of Los Angeles. He said the prob- lems facing African-American families today and families in general seem insurmountable,, but the solutions are simple. Bishop Fishers said fami- lies need to start praying to- .gather again. "That's the first step. Families don't pray to- gether. Prayer is the glue that holds the family together." And parishes, he said, need to "do exactly what Jesus would do"--sit down with families and 'let them know we love them." "A great sin of the Catholic Church is our impersonaliza- tion," he said. "People come to Mass, worship, sing and go home." In an interview with Catholic News Service, Bishop Fisher talked about the problems besetting the black family, ways the church can strengthen the family and how families themselves can find solutions. "As gee the family so goes the world," said Bishop Fisher, one of the nation's 11 active black bishops. "There are tremendous problems be- setting the African-American family. The statistics give us a negative enough picture, in- cluding statistics that show there are more black young men in prison than college. "The signs are not very en- couraging, hence the urgency of it all." He paralleled the' break-up of families with the path he said Peter took in destroying "his family relationship with the Lord." It began, he said, in the Garden of Gethsemane when Peter and the other dis- ciples ignored Christ's plea to See BLACK page 5 A.quilt, made of patches from each diocese sending delegates to the National Black Catholic Congress, creates a unique wall hanging. , 'Rites of Passage' encouraged for. diocese of Evansville The Rites of Passage is similar to confirmation or bar mitzvah, according to Latoski McCarty. According to material McCarty brought back from the congress, the goals of the program are the following: to provide a culturally specific transition from child- hood to adulthood for black children, especially black males to develop African American children who are physi- cally, mentally and spirituallly sound and whole to foster a sense of identity, purpose,and direction among your, h, and . . ..... to.iwolve parents as volunteers and role models: 2;he program focuses m seven values, which =para.lhd those (:elebrated during the M'ri(:an Am,et;ican holiAay, of Kwanzaa, Dec, 26 tlrough lad. 1; mitv, self-delerm[uil- lion, collective work an(I re.spon'gihitlty" COOl)eratiO, er,o: heroics, purpose, creativity, lnd faith in something g)'eater than oneself. ' ..- :," ,'