The theme for the National Black Catholic Congress, which will be taking place from July 7-9 in the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Fla., is "The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me: Act Justly, Love Goodness, and Walk Humbly with Your God."
The Diocese of Buffalo will be well represented at the National Black Catholic Congress, with 40 delegates who will be attending this year's event. The African-American Commission for the Diocese of Buffalo was given a grant from the Bishop's Council of the Laity Philanthropic Fund of the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo that enabled the commission to invite others to participate in the upcoming Congress XII.
The focus of Congress XII will be on justice, love and walking humbly with God, which is going to challenge the delegates to be true evangelizers. They are called to acknowledge the modern world's rejection of human beings, and will be inspired and encouraged to speak out in meaningful ways as people dedicated to the Gospel. They will be asked to look into their own hearts and intentions that go beyond just denouncing the injustices in the world around them.
These delegates gathered for a day of reflection in preparation for this congress. They prayed and meditated on the theme. They talked about some of the good things that are going on in our diocese in the areas of spiritual growth, human dignity, marriage and family, and various social issues. They also came up with ideas for what more we could do, as a diocese, to help in those areas.
Some of the good things that they see happening are Bible studies, Gospel music, the Environmental Décor, things being done bilingually, evangelization with other churches, teaching our youth tradition, participation in national events that train and help with ministry, like Congress and the Lyke Conference, and the day of reflection for the elderly.
One thing they felt was not going as well was the need for better salaries for the teachers of our Catholic schools. This may help in the recruitment of more diverse teachers. We need cultural sensitivity training for teachers and other leaders in our Catholic schools and churches. There is a need for better training of youth leaders. They would like to see more events geared toward youth, and acknowledgement that life isn't always laughter and that there are many angry people out in our world. Many times, they people feel like they don't have a voice.
Some suggestions made by the delegates included forming a prison ministry team and intergenerational programs where, for example, youth could teach the elders some things, and the elderly could teach the youth about other things. Another suggestion was that we, as Church, could encourage families to eat more meals together and to communicate with each other. We could also ask the young people to create YouTube videos on the African saints. Prayer is powerful, and we need to do more of it and get ourselves involved in the works of mercy.