By Father Stephen Thorne
In my room in St. Cyprian Rectory, you will find a number of books. Some I have yet to read, others I have and continue to use. One such book that I have used often is our bicentennial book, “Our Faith-Filled Heritage.”
Like others, I enjoy reading the rich history of our Archdiocese and looking at the pictures of the beautiful churches. Recently, as I was paging through the book, I realized the number of sections that are dedicated to African-American Catholics.
Indeed, African Americans have been part of the Archdiocese from the every beginning and thus no authentic history can be written and not include the gifts and culture of African-American Catholics. {{more}}
One of the treasures I have in my office is the copy of the record of the first African-American who was baptized in our Archdiocese in 1743! That sacred moment was the beginning of a mighty throng who have embraced the sacraments of the Church.
February is considered “Black History Month” and affords us as Catholics the opportunity to learn and celebrate the history of our brothers and sisters who are African-American.
I invite all to join us on Saturday, Feb. 5, at 10 a.m. for Mass at the historic St. Peter Claver Church, 12th and Lombard Streets. St. Peter Claver was dedicated by Archbishop Ryan in 1892 as the first Church for African-Americans in our Archdiocese. Mass will be followed by a presentation on Philadelphia Black Catholic History by Deacon Edward Purnell.
Mass will also be celebrated on Sunday, Feb. 6, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Charles Borromeo Church, located at 20th and Christian streets, in recognition of Black History Month. All are welcome!
Recently, I heard a quote that I really like, “We are not called to make highlights, but make history.” May you and I not just read history, but make history.
Father Thorne serves as director of the Archdiocesan Office for Black Catholics and supervises the St. Peter Claver Center for Evangelization.