By Father Stephen D. Thorne
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love music. Whether it’s when I am driving my car or working in the rectory, I listen to music, all kinds of music. I played in the band at Northeast Catholic High School and can even sing on perfect pitch.
Recently, as I made my way navigating the curves on Lincoln Drive, a song came on the radio that I love… “Never would have made without you.” It was written and recorded by gospel artist Marvin Sapp. As I pumped up the volume I was also lead to reflect on all the blessings that I, and so many people who are part of my history, have from God.
February is dedicated as Black History Month and is a chance for us to celebrate the history and accomplishments of African-Americans. For us Catholics, Black History Month offers us an opportunity to thank God and recognize the contributions that African-American Catholics have made to our Archdiocese.
Deep in the history of our local Church is the history of people with African blood. Our archdiocesan archives proved that the first baptism of an African-American in our Archdiocese was recorded in 1743. Also, long before Archbishop Patrick Ryan dedicated St. Peter Claver Church for African-Americans in 1892, African-Americans were worshiping as Catholics, loving and supporting the Church. Our Archdiocese even hosted the Third National Black Catholic Congress in 1982, a fact that only six other dioceses in our nation can share. Our history is a testimony of strength and deep faith in God, for even when we were not always welcomed, African-Americans loved the Catholic Church.
It is precisely this history that inspires me in my ministry as a priest of this Archdiocese. I never walk alone because of so many who have walked before me and beside me. I often go to St. Peter Claver Church, and in quiet prayer I “listen” to the elders remind me to hold on and trust in God.
As all of us continue on the road of life and our journey to heaven, let us remember and be grateful for all who brought us this far.
Father Thorne is the archdiocesan director of the Office for Black Catholics and pastor of St. Therese Parish in Mount Airy.