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  The recipients of Father Bell memorial scholarship awards, given to those attending one of our Catholic high schools in the diocese, began to arrive and other families followed. Before we knew it, it was time to get started and so Father Cletus Imo, the pastor of the parish, officially opened the event for us with a prayer.    But just before we could pray, sad news was brought to our attention. One of the recipients of the scholarship had lost his father within the week of the event. But with heavy hearts the whole family including grand parents who came in from out of town, came out to support their son. And so, Fr. Imo was asked to include the family in the prayer and for the repose of the dad. 

 It was a wonderful celebration that families look forward to every June.

 I did get so many people asking, “what is this Juneteenth you are celebrating?” And I simply say that it is like Independence Day for African Americans. When president Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 all the African slaves in America were supposed to be freed but it did not happen right away. The slaves in the South did not hear the news until June 19, 1865, when Army General Gordon Granger reached Galveston, Texas with his troops and read the Emancipation Proclamation in abridged form. And so African Americans on June 19th celebrate every year to remember and to tell their stories. We hope you will find time next year to join us! Vita tecum!

 David Okonkwo is the Director of the Diocesan Ministry of Catholics of African Descent.