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Black Catholics celebrate history

admin | 2/8/2012, 7:30 a.m.

During annual Revival Services, worshippers honor collective history, prepare for Easter

Many Black Catholics who reside in South Florida, were treated to the talents of internationally renowned liturgical composer, author, presenter and musician Grayson Warren Brown during Revival Services held at the Holy Redeemer Church in Miami and St. Philip Neri Church in Miami Gardens during the week of Feb. 6th through Feb. 8th.Browns latest release, Greatness and Glory are Yours, includes the award-winning hymn, Come to the Water. The revival services are annual events held in observance of Black History Month and to prepare for the upcoming celebration of Easter since Ash Wednesday - the first day of Lent - falls on Feb. 22 this year. This years theme was the Power of Faith. According to Father John Cox, the rector of the Holy Redeemer Church, the Revival Services have been celebrated at the 300-member church for the past 22 years. Black Catholics: a distinguished minority Although in recent decades the number of practicing Catholics has decreased, Catholics still represent more than a billion Christians world wide.According to the Florida Catholic Conference, there are currently 2.2 million Catholics residing in Florida.Meanwhile, according to a 2000 CARA Catholic Poll, Blacks account for only 3 percent of Catholics in the United States. And of the 18,000 U.S. Catholic parishes, only over 1,000 are predominantly Black.Since the 1970s, there has been a growing movement to recognize the contributions of minorities to the Catholic religion. For Blacks, that meant recognizing how people of color have been an influential force within the church almost since it was first created the first century A.D.According to one rector from the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana in an interview with St. Anthony Messenger, Its easy to think we were converted on the plantation. But Black Catholics have been a part of the Church longer than we think. For example, three popes in the early church, Victor I, Miltiades (also known as Melchiades) and Gelasius I were African. And the first Black African to be canonized was St. Moses the Black, an outlaw and leader of a band of bandits who fled into the desert of Egypt to avoid taxes.In the United States, Black Catholics have remained faithful worshippers and participants of the church and even managed to found and support Xavier University in New Orleans, is the only Black Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States.Meanwhile, Black Catholics continue to receive greater attention nowadays. According to a recently published National Black Catholic Survey, Black Catholics tend to be more religiously engaged than their white counterparts.The study, which was one of the first studies to focus specifically upon Black Catholics, reported that younger worshippers also tended to be more engaged with church activities with 59 percent reporting that they attended church services at least once a week compared to 35 percent of whites. By Kaila Heard kheard@miamitimesonline.com