African-American Apostolate Committee Meets in Louisiana

Rebecca Doel In the Headlines

METAIRIE, La. — Neil O’Connell, OFM, and Paul Williams, OFM, represented Holy Name Province at a March meeting of the Interfamilial OFM African-American Apostolate Committee at the Cenacle Retreat House.

Members of Sacred Heart Province and the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph also attended the March 29 to 31 gathering outside New Orleans that focused on committee by-laws and retention of African-American vocations.

Meeting with OFM Provincial Ministers
The attendees discussed a future meeting that committee chair Fr. Ferd Cheri, OFM, will have with the provincial ministers of the OFM English-speaking Conference.

“The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the interplay of African-American spirituality and Franciscan spirituality as well as to discuss the manner in which the committee will relate to the Order,” Neil said. “For the latter discussion, the committee reviewed and made recommendations for a revised draft of committee by-laws.”

Fr. Ferd will present a final draft of the by-laws to the provincial ministers. The committee has charged Neil with the development of these by-laws.

“In discussing with the provincials the relationship of African-American spirituality and Franciscan spirituality,” Neil said, “Ferd will be providing the results of a continuing reflection on this relationship by the committee under the coordination of Sacred Heart friar Fr. Chris Reuter, OFM.” Neil added that Fr. Chris recently translated and distributed a paper delivered by an African Franciscan sister on this topic.

Radical Justice and the Catholic Church
Fr. John Celichowski, OFM Cap, Provincial Minister of the Province of St. Joseph, provided a written summary ofRadical Justice and the Catholic Church by Fr. Bryan Massingale, an African-American Catholic theologian and faculty member of Marquette University.

According to Neil, “This book explores how the infection of white privilege — prevalent in United States society — has also found a place in the United States Catholic Church.” Fr. Massingale is the second African-American president of the American Catholic Theological Society.

Fr. Ferd will present copies of Radical Justice and the Catholic Church to the provincial ministers at his meeting. 

African-American Franciscan Vocations
A recurring item on the committee’s agenda is the recruitment and retention of African-American Franciscan vocations.

Neil said the committee considered the “Stir Into Flame” plan of the National Black Catholic Congress as a useful process for friars to reach out to young African-Americans interested in Franciscan vocations.

The committee reaffirmed that its newsletter, under the coordination of Fr. Carroll Mizicko, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, should continue. Committee members agreed to provide Fr. Carroll with information about events relating to African-American Franciscan ministry.

The next meeting will be held Sept. 20 to 23 in Milwaukee.

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.