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By Lois Carson

 The 25th anniversary celebration of Bishop Barnes can be summed up in three words: an unforgettable weekend!

 As a Catholic of African descent, I was thrilled to see the level of involvement of black Catholics in all the anniversary activities. It brought tears to my eyes to see the black women who prepared the altar at Mass, and the black girls as part of the litugical dancers.

Providing a designated spot for the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary was truly appreciated by all of us. Curious guests asked questions about who we were and many of them had never heard of St. Peter Claver.

 Many black Catholics have felt like spectators rather than participators in the affairs of the Church. I counter with the fact that when I asked Bishop Barnes to request a Nigerian priest to serve a community in our Diocese, he did it. He always accompanied the delegates to the Quinquennial Congress sponsored by the National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC). 

 The anniversary weekend served to reboot the relationship between the Diocese and the black Catholics. Continued efforts by Diocesan officials to send a message of “belonging” will go a long way to reverse this feeling on the part of this segment of the Body of Christ. I commend Bishop Barnes on his leadership. 

 Lois Carson is a founding member of Court #257 of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary, and is a parishioner of St. Anthony Catholic Church in San Bernardino.