Civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “lived out his baptismal call of Christian discipleship,” said Capuchin Father Richard Owens, director of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for Black Catholics.
The office, which serves approximately 14,000 Black Catholics within the archdiocese, sponsored an interfaith prayer service Jan. 20 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Our Mother of Consolation Parish in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill section.
Reflecting afterwards on the event, at which Archbishop Charles Chaput presided, Father Owens said although Dr. King’s life was “a mixture of successes and failures,” the minister and activist “testified to what it really means to be a disciple of Christ.”
That discipleship entails “(bearing) the cross in the struggle for justice, peace, respect and love,” Father Owens said.
The call to do so is prophetic, he added, citing the prophet Micah’s exhortation to “do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mi 6:8).
Dr. King “received his prophetic call within the church,” said Father Owens, and “used his Christian heritage as a platform for preaching and teaching,” which were both “rooted in Scripture.”
Father Owens said that while “the United States has made some progress in realizing Dr. King’s message,” there is more work to be done.
Referencing the U.S. bishops’ November 2018 pastoral letter on racism, he cited “the major obstacle” to healing current racial divisions as “our inability to truly open wide our heart to recognize that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.”
Annual celebrations and days of service “must not be confined to Dr. King’s holiday,” said Father Owens.
He stressed that “as a people of faith, we are constantly called to work toward eradicating poverty; ensuring equal wages, economic equality and respect for human life at all stages; addressing the issue of mass incarceration; and dismantling institutional racism.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103