By David Okonkwo
Black history month comes around every year. Most of us do the same thing we do every year. But this year we ask that we add something to our usual or start something new for the greater good. We are calling for a more “arms open wide” kind of relationship, extending our hands to our neighbors, to all peoples, immigrants, across culture even in the cloud of our unknowns about the “other.”
As people with enough experience of being the “other,” we absolutely stand side by side with migrants, immigrants and all who are seen or taken as the “other” one way or the other.
In our Diocese, those Catholics of African Descent in various parishes have planned special liturgies to celebrate the month and the lives of those who could not make it to the parishes and for those who died because of being the “other” or “the least among us.”
The Diocesan Celebration of Black History Month will be held on Sunday, February 12 at the first black parish in our diocese, St. Anthony in San Bernardino, 1640 Western Avenue. A Mass will be held at 9 a.m. with a reception to follow immediately in the hall. On Saturday, February 25, St. Christopher Parish in Moreno Valley will honor Black History Month with a 5 p.m. Mass followed by a reception in the parish hall, as well. At both Masses there will be a gospel choir joining a visiting priest and a homilist.
In all these celebrations we will be saying special prayers for our bishop, Most Rev. Gerald Barnes, who is celebrating his 25th Anniversary in our Diocese.
David C. Okonkwo is the Director of the Diocesan Ministry to Catholics of African Descent.