WASHINGTON (April 25, 2000) -- The influence of African Americans in the Catholic Church in the United States will be explored at Encuentro 2000: Many Faces in God's House.
Encuentro 2000 will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, July 6-9. The event is the key jubilee gathering for the Catholic Church in the United States and is being hosted by the Hispanic community for all ethnic groups in the nation.
Encuentro 2000 will showcase the West Coast premiere of Enduring Faith, a 90-minute documentary that examines the struggle to establish an African American clergy in the Catholic Church. Encuentro 2000 also will feature workshops led by African Americans, including a Sunday morning presentation by Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, SVD, auxiliary bishop of Galveston-Houston and a member of the Bishops' Committee for African American Catholics.
The African American experience also will be highlighted in Encuentro's global village, which will include a site from an Afrocentric perspective. The convention center also will feature several prayer spaces reflecting various ethic traditions, including a shrine to Our Mother of Africa.
Bishop Guillory, a member of the bishops' Subcommittee for Encuentro 2000, noted the importance of African American participation in this national event.
"The African American community has been a vital part of the Church in the United States since the 1500's. The Catholic Church is a community of people with a shared faith and a shared tradition," Bishop Guillory said. "African American Catholics take pride in the Catholic Church and see themselves as an integral part of it. That's why it is important to be at Encuentro 2000."
Enduring Faith is part of a film festival sponsored by the Catholic Communication Campaign in association with the City of Angels Film Festival. It is narrated by actor Andre Braugher and tells the tale through the prism of the Josephite Society, an English missionary group that came to America in 1871 to evangelize and convert the recently emancipated slaves.
Enduring Faith brings to light a little known and rarely discussed story. It tells of the courage and ultimate despair of early Black Josephite priests and the pivotal role of Rome in forcing the church in America to open its doors to Blacks. It also brings to the forefront the Josephite's undying efforts to bring Catholicism to African Americans and the unwavering stance of African American Catholics who clung tenaciously to the faith through trying times.
During the Sunday workshop program, titled Do Not Fear To Hope: Taking Encuentro 2000 Home, Bishop Guillory will lead a Sunday morning session, Encuentro 2000 and African American Catholics: The Dialog Continues. The workshop will be sponsored by the Bishops' Secretariat for African American Catholics and co-directed by Beverly Carroll, Executive Director of the Secretariat. The workshop will look at strategies and opportunities for implementing the Encuentro vision at home. The session will include an opportunity for participants to process new insights and different perspectives and tap into differences as they execute leadership skills. The workshop audience will include African American Catholic ministers, those who minister in the African American community and those who minister in a diverse population.
An estimated four percent of U.S. Catholics, about 2.5 million people, are African American. The largest number of African Americans lives in the archdioceses or dioceses of New Orleans; Brooklyn; Chicago; Washington; Lafayette, La.; Baltimore; St. Louis; Philadelphia; Houston and Louisville, Ky.
Nine percent of the African Americans in the United States are Catholic.
African-American groups sponsoring Encuentro 2000 include Knights of Peter Claver -- Ladies Auxiliary, National Association for Black Catholic Administrators, National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, the National Black Catholic Congress, and the National Black Sisters' Conference.