WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for Mass at St. Peter Claver Church in Baltimore during the first day of their fall general assembly. During the assembly, taking place November 14-16, the bishops will elect a new president and vice president, hear a report and recommendations on promoting peace in violence-stricken communities, and vote for the chairmen-elect of five committees. The bishops will also vote on the Conference's 2017-2020 strategic plan, Encountering the Mercy of Christ and Accompanying His People with Joy.
"I am grateful to be able to join my brother bishops on this occasion as we concelebrate Mass at such a significant Church in Baltimore's history. Together, we offer our solidarity and support to Baltimore's African-American community as we work in unity toward peaceful solutions in all our communities across the country," said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Established in 1888, St. Peter of Claver is the largest African-American Catholic congregation in the city with a long-standing tradition of Civil Rights activism. Named after a Spanish priest (1581-1654) who fought for and ministered to black slaves in the West Indies, it is part of the Old West Baltimore National Register Historic District.
"The decision by the leadership of the Bishops' Conference to hold this special Mass at St. Peter Claver Church in West Baltimore underscores the Church's great pastoral concern for the challenges that are present in too many cities in our country and for our sisters and brothers who are affected by them," said William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore.
The Church is staffed by the Josephite Society of the Sacred Heart, an interracial, intercultural community of priests and brothers whose mission is to serve the African American Community and advance the teachings of the Church among African Americans. The Society is the only community of men in the American Catholic Church that is engaged exclusively in this particular ministry. Founded after the Civil War to minister to newly freed slaves, the Josephites have served the African American community since 1871. The Society supports parishes and special ministries, spanning across the East and West Coast.