USCCB to Honor Black History
Since 1976 the month of February has been set aside as Black History Month. The Secretariat for African American Catholics will be organizing events at the USCCB to honor the contributions of African Americans. The month kicks off with a Day of Prayer for African American Families. Other activities include a presentation on the Civil Rights movement; a concert; and an art exhibit. On the 8th and 28th of the month, African American priests from the Washington, D.C. community will celebrate mass in the USCCB chapel. "African American contributions to the history, culture and style of spirituality of the Catholic Church in the United States have been significant," says Ono Ekeh, USCCB Secretariat for African American Catholics. "A lot of the forward-thinking of the National Black Catholic Congresses of the 19th century foreshadowed the themes of of the Second Vatican Council."
Ono Ekeh is available at 202/541-3394.
February Marks Celebration of Consecrated Life
Each year hundreds of men and women take an extra step and consecrate their lives to Christ. Some join religious orders; others join secular institutes and still others become hermits or consecrated virgins. "In the United States, members who belong to institutes of consecrated life have developed school and health care systems which has brought knowledge and healing to millions of Americans,@ notes Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a Sister of Mercy for 38 years. "On February 2-3, the U.S. celebration of the World Day for Consecrated Life, parishes and dioceses nationwide will acknowledge these men and women and all that they do for the Church."
Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM is available at 202/541-3200.
Ash Wednesday Symbol of Prayer, Fasting
On Ash Wednesday, February 13, Catholics receive the sign of the cross on their foreheads. Smudged with an ash-laden cross, believers strive to turn from all that is earthly, dark and sinful and prepare for Easter, when the Lord was resurrected. "It's easy to fall out of habits of holiness and virtue, and even the habits of prayer," says Rev. James Moroney, Director, USCCB Office for the Liturgy. "Lent is a time for regaining good habits, and for living the message of the cross in a hundred little acts of fasting and virtue. Receiving the ashes of Ash Wednesday is but the first of those acts."
Rev. James Moroney is available at 202/541-3068.
Domestic, International Issues Focus of Annual Social Ministry Gathering
Over 400 Catholic leaders from around the country will meet in Washington from February 24-27 for the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering sponsored by several USCCB offices and other national Catholic organizations. The gathering will feature top national and international speakers including bishops from Pakistan and Nigeria, as well as issue and skills workshops. Attendees will visit Capitol Hill and press their legislators to address several important policy priorities for the U.S. bishops including the reauthorization of welfare, the need for more federal housing assistance, the restructuring of foreign aid and our response to terrorism and global health. "The events of September 11 make us more aware than ever that our world can change overnight," says Daniel Misleh, Director of Diocesan Outreach, USCCB Department of Social Development and World Peace. "Participants in the conference will learn ways to channel change in ways that affirm peace and human life."
Daniel Misleh is available at 202/541-3195.
Home Missions Appeal to Award Grants
At any given time approximately 40 percent of the 194 dioceses of the United States need serious financial assistance to provide basic pastoral ministries of worship and service for their people. This includes providing the Mass and sacraments, religious education, and training for priests, deacons, women religious and lay ministers. Each year the Catholic Home Missions Appeal channels funds from wealthier parishes to places that need help to survive. "The USCCB Committee on the Home Missions will meet February 25-26 to award grant monies that we've seen double over the past four years," says Dr. David Byers, Executive Director, Department of Missions/Science and Human Values. "This sharing of resources is a powerful illustration of the Church taking care of its own."
Dr. David Byers is available at 202/541-3011.