Black Catholics in America : LUSENET : Catholic Pages Forum : One Thread

One of my girlfriends is an African American Catholic (she prefers black actually, but I don't wish to offend anyone). She belongs to the Society for the cause of Pierre Toussaint, who was a 19th century Haitian slave brought to America, eventually freed. He became a hairdresser and supported the wife of his "owner" in her widowhood, and he was known throughout New York City for his charity and deep faith. In her association with this society, my friend has met others like herself who are devout and active in their parishes, but who sometimes get weary of seeming like an "oddity" as the only black. My friend says sometimes she feels completely isolated and is torn between love of the church, and her enjoyment in all of her parish duties, and the feeling that she is "different". Lately, she has begun teaching our Sunday kids classes about the black saints of the church (Monica and Augustine, Charles Nwanda and Companions, Benedict the Black, etc) and that is going over very well and I think is bringing her a much firmer sense of belonging here. Anyone here going thru the same issues? And what are everyone's parishes doing to make people of color feel welcome in their community?.

-- Anonymous, July 08, 1998


Dana, I've never seen anything like what you describe above. And I can't imagine any Catholic being made to feel out of place in a Church! As far as I can see in our congregation, everyone is made welcome regardless of race. We have natives, blacks, orientals, Europeans, and Caucasions (sp?) in our church. They range from landed immigrants to 12th or higher generation Canadians. And I never noticed until your question made me look. They have always just been other members of my church. The old gentleman who always sits in the middle. The young couple with the two adorable boys. The girl almost paralyzed by a drunk driver. The song leader who always smiles...All my fellow Christians.

I'm afraid I don't have much in the way of advice though except to perhaps get the priest to speak on the subject during a homily. Or for her to speak to the priest about how she feels.

Of course, sometimes, it's possible to feel all alone when you actually aren't. Perhaps she would be surprized if she looked at the rest of the congregation and noticed how many others 'stand out' in one way or another. (see first paragraph)

I'm not sure how much help I've been Dana but didn't want to leave your question hanging for so long.


-- Anonymous, July 09, 1998

Esther, your parish sounds wonderful to me. I have had experiences in catholic parishes in other states and cities where multiculteralism and diversity were rather more the norm than not. Here in Long Island, though, Catholics tend to be of European heritage, your basic Italian, Irish, Polish, whatever, falling under the umbrella of "caucasian" so, unfortunately, with the exception of one parish that I know of, Catholicism here is basically "Lily-white". Don't get me wrong, my girlfriend doesn't feel mistreated or unaccepted, or unwelcome...just "conspicuously different" and a little outside of it. But then, I'm about as white as a white person can be (Celtic Blue, you know) and sometimes "I" feel like I'm an outsider, so perhaps it has more to do with psychology and self-esteem than race. Unfortunately, we all bring our own baggage with us, don't we? :-) You wanna see a picasso smiley face? .._} {Pax}, Dana

-- Anonymous, July 09, 1998

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