As I looked back over my experience during the 13th National Black Catholic Congress and prayerfully asked the Lord what to share from all the wonderful things experienced, I was truly blessed. I enjoyed the community of fellowship and music, the opening Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as well as the opportunity to share and learn from the presenters.

What stands out most, however, was hearing about the history, struggle, and adversity of the six Black Catholics on the road to sainthood. They are Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Venerable Henriette Delille, Venerable Father Augustus Tolton, Venerable Mother Mary Lange, Servant of God Julia Greeley, and Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman. Each individual added to the history of the burdens and struggles to be recognized by the Catholic Church and to be seen as God sees us.

I am blessed to be Black and Catholic. As Black Catholics, we bring a richness of culture and spirituality to the Universal Church. God has called us to love one another, to forgive one another, and to exercise our gifts, talents and diversity as Black Catholics.

The theme of Congress XIII, “Write the Vision: “A Prophetic Call to Thrive,” invites us to focus not on our limited, worldly vision, but on God’s vision for us. It is His vision, built on His truth, that allows us to reach His potential for us — that allows us to truly thrive.

I am blessed because I am able to share with you, my brothers and sisters, the blessing of knowing that there is hope for our Church when we open our eyes and see what God is doing.  Hope for our Church as Black Catholics to meet the future challenges of our faith. Excitement to work on God’s plan and vision for us to thrive. And faith that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, empowers us, guides us and allows God to use us to bring Glory to His name.

Let us have faith to trust in God for what we don’t yet see, and for our hands and feet to be means of action to fulfill God’s plans, individually and collectively, for the good of the Black Catholic Church to thrive. Amen!


Doug Sanford is a parishioner at St. Martin De Porres Church in North Philadelphia.