In What We Have Seen Heard: A Pastoral Letter on Evangelization, the Black Bishops of the United States write, “There is a richness to Black experience that we must share with the entire People of God. These are gifts that are part of an African past. For we have heard with Black ears and we have seen with black eyes and we have understood with an African heart. We thank God for the gifts of our Catholic faith and we ve thanks for the gifts of our Blackness. In all humly we turn to the whole Church that it might share our gifts so that “our joy may be complete.”
Black Catholics bring to the Church a spirituality that is contemplative, holistic, joyful and communitarian. There is a wide variety in a community which includes all people of Black heritage: i.e., African American, African and Afro-Caribbean. Black Catholics have coined the phrase, “truly black and authentically Catholic” which represents a serious search for meaning and validation in the face of evils such as racism, but also unwavering and steadfast faith in the midst of struggle. (Excerpt from the 2014 Archdiocese of Milwaukee Synod Background Paper on Cultural Diversity)
Black Catholic Ministry Commission
The Black Catholic Ministry Commission (BCMC, the Commission) of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is a representative body composed of laity, religious and clergy dedicated to fostering the spiritual, educational, economic and cultural lives of persons of African descent in the archdiocese, reaching out to Catholics and non-Catholics, those who are active in the church as well as the un-churched. The Commission works in collaboration with the Director for Intercultural Ministries for the archdiocese to articulate the mission, clarify the vision, develop and implement plans to address the needs and hopes of Black Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and advance the implementation of the National Black Catholic Pastoral Plan as it applies to our local reality.
The BCMC is represented in the Steering Committee currently working on the development of a Pastoral Plan for Black Catholic Ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Click here to view the membership of the Black Catholic Ministry Commission.
Guided by the archdiocesan mission, To Proclaim Christ and Make Disciples through the Sacramental Life of the Church, the BCMC cooperates with parish and archdiocesan leadership bodies, with archdiocesan offices and agencies, to carry out its work. The Commission coordinates a number of annual events such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Prayer Service and contributes to the formation of archdiocesan goals and policies on behalf of the Black community, monitoring and implementing strategies to address these principles in accordance with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, its goals and objectives. In furtherance of these goals, the Commission has developed or is developing a number of committees.
Black Catholic Ministry Commission Committees
This is designed to bring couples together who have been married for twenty-five years or more, and whose ages range from fifty-five and above for the purpose of engaging in lively discussion about retirement, empty-nesting, children returning back home to live, long-term family illness, caring for a disabled spouse or elderly parent, money-matters, and death and dying. It is a reality that couples will find themselves wrestling with some or all of the aforementioned issues at some point during their marriage, all in midst of striving to remain a loving and committed couple. This program will provide seasoned married couples the chance to support and fellowship with one another. It will also afford them the opportunity to deepen their spiritual relationship with themselves and God. All programming is open to everyone, regardless of cultural background and religious tradition. However, we do establish that as the Catholic Church, we adhere to the doctrine of the church on marriage and all of its teachings.
Brother Booker Ashe Lay Leadership Program
The mission of the Brother Booker Ashe Lay Leadership Program (BBALP), is to provide activities and programming that focus on the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, to promote the development of lay leaders in the ministry of life-long catholic faith formation and to ensure that events and programs will emphasize the contributions of Black Catholics within the history and traditions of the Catholic Church and Holy Scriptures.
African Catholic Ministry Committee
The mission of the African Catholic Ministry Committee is to provide a vehicle for nurturing and sustaining the pastoral, spiritual and sacramental needs of the African Catholic Community in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The Committee facilitates engagement in local parish communities that foster leadership development and increases active sharing gifts of faith, culture and skills. We promote cross-cultural awareness and understanding of African Heritage and spirituality, we serve as a resource to connect newly-arrived African Catholics with their communities of origin in their area or neighborhoods and/or help them find a parish home. We provide recourses to support faith building programs including but not limited to retreats; liturgical and cultural faith immersion celebrations.
NIA – Youth Ministry and Young Adult Ministry
These two separate ministries, addressing two different age groups, provide opportunities to strengthen and enhance spiritual growth. The role, of the two committees, is to develop, within the communities, a desire to nurture one’s faith and appreciate its’ richness and foster a dedication to pass on the faith. We will accomplish this by providing programs, as well as events, to enhance knowledge about the role of our Black Ancestors in the Sacred Scriptures; our Saints, history and traditions of the Catholic Church. We intend to include and use information/ writings of current Black Catholic Theologians, Authors, Bishops, Clergy, Religious and Laity along with the writings of our Pope and our Archbishop.
We will engage the youth and the young adults through prayers services, retreats and events that will provide opportunities for prayer, socializing, leadership training, spiritual and personal growth.
Martin Luther King Prayer Service
Dr. King was a man of God who allowed scripture to guide him and motivate him. The prayer service is a way to experience his message and re-dedicate ourselves to the causes of Dr. King stood for and gave his life for. The service engages and challenges attendees to look within and access how are you living God’s call for you? How are you being Christ-like in your homes, in your communities, in your churches, in the world? The prayer service offers one of the many and varied ways of sharing Black Spirituality through spiritual music, sacred movement and scripture; shared with the greater community and offered as an expression of faith and love of God and the Church. Archbishop Listecki has been active participant at all of our services, since his arrival to this Archdiocese.
The ministry of the Sacred Liturgies celebrates and deepens our relationship with Jesus Christ through the bestowal of grace, communal prayer and liturgical experiences; it awakens their awareness of the spirit at work in their lives; it incorporates us more fully into the sacramental life of the Church, especially Eucharist; it nurtures our personal prayer life; and it fosters family rituals and prayer.
The mission of the Sacred Liturgies Committee is to ensure that Black Catholics in the Milwaukee Archdiocese are provided with the opportunity to experience such celebrations that will enhance their spiritual journey. These liturgical events should include the richness of our Black culture.
We will utilize the extensive contributions of our Black liturgists. We will use educational materials from the many Black authors that focus on prayer and liturgical celebrations.
The symbols and rituals of liturgy become more meaningful when given the chance to experience liturgical forums such as the Liturgy of the Hours, liturgy of reconciliation/healing, and other ritual devotions which allow for creativity and adaptation to the life experiences and cultural expressions.
The committee’s focus will strive to ensure that the Black Catholics of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are provided with opportunities to deepen their faith through a variety of prayer experiences and liturgical celebrations that reflect their heritage as Black Catholics.