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 A New Year. A Renewed Resolution to Follow Christ.
 Answering the Call: Recognizing God’s call to religious life Part 2 in a series of NBCC interviews with Sr. Callista Robinson and Sr. Gayle Lwanga Crumbley
 Letter to the NBCC Editor
 Do Your Homework for This New Year’s Resolution: Going Back to School
 Know Your Drug Costs Before You Leave the Doctor’s Office
 “Be Not Afraid … the truth will set you free” - A Youth Vocations Pilgrimage
 Time Management Tips for the High School Kids
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Living Mission Interculturally: Faith, Culture, and the Renewal of Praxis
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Anthony Gittins, CSSp
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Black Catholic Young Adults

“Be Not Afraid … the truth will set you free”
A Youth Vocations Pilgrimage

Consider these lyrics from the song “The Greatest Love of All” (written in 1977 by Michael Masser and Linda Creed), immortalized by the gifted Whitney Houston:

“… I believe the children are the future,
teach them well and let them lead the way …”

Article Index
What We've Seen and Heard...Black Lives Matter
The past three weeks have awakened a sleeping giant in Baltimore. For some, the incidents brought back horrible memories of a time long past.. Click for full story
We celebrate Most Reverend Fernand Cheri’s ordination
We are providing a link from you tube to the entire ordination of Bishop Fernand Cheri in New Orleans. Click for full story
Meeting Them Where They're At
As a youth minister I longed to help young men see another way. Click for full story
Now Soliciting Nominations For Participants 2015 Black Catholic Young Adult Listening Session
African American Affairs is seeking 25 Black Catholic Young Adults to help us begin to develop an approaches to effectively evangelize and cultivate leadership. Click for full story
Domestic Violence and Abuse
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. Click for full story
Empty Shell Marriages
Sociology textbooks define Empty Shell Marriages as: A marriage in name only, where a couple continues to live under the same roof but as separate individuals. Click for full story
Must See Sermon
In this Young Adult Service, the Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, a Baptist minister from Alexandria, Virginia, challenges the young and young at heart to explore their trust in God by showing how God reveals himself. Click for full story
Sunday Prayer for Teens 2014-2015
Sunday Prayer for Teens provides a great way to support a teenager’s prayer life throughout the year in a cost-effective manner. Click for full story
Dying to Self
What does it look like to be crucified with Christ? What does it mean that “I no longer live?” How do I deny myself? Click for full story
Shining her Light: Proud Young Women, Black & Yes, Catholic!
In honor of Black Catholic History Month, 13 year old Vanessa was asked by her churches BCHM Committee to share with her Parish what it means to her to be Black and Catholic. Click for full story
Vocation, a Journey to Conversion
A reflection written by Fr. Davis when he was a deacon. He was ordained to the priesthood June 2013 in New York. Click link for full story
Online Resources for Teens: lifeteen.com
Check out the these resources for teens concerning alcohol, sex, living a pure life and more Click link for full story
Examination of Conscience
Every day we must examine our reflections and take account for the mark we have left on the world. Click link for full story
The Time has Come
On June 1, 2013, seven young men of the Josephite Fathers and Brothers religious community were ordained to the priesthood at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC in what was both a festive and holy occasion. Click link for full story
The National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) 2013
From November 21st through November 23rd, the young Catholic church of the United States will gather in Indianapolis, Indiana to play, pray, and praise as only they know how at the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). Click link for full story
The Road to Youth Ministry: Discerning God’s Call
Ministry discernment begins with a call received at baptism. This call comes from God to every baptized Christian. Some folks would like to think that God dialed the wrong number and couldn’t possibly be calling them. They are wrong. God calls all of us to mission and ministry. Click link for full story
Is Waiting Worth It?
The boundary for sex is marriage. God instructs us to wait to express our physical sexuality with another human being. He knows the power of it and knows that the best place for it to be expressed is inside of marriage. When sex happens inside of marriage it acts as a bond that keeps two people together, for life. Click link for full story
My Reflections on the National Black Catholic Congress XI
I have attended Congresses in the past as a youth. But now as a young adult, I believe I learned more from the experience. Perhaps now, as I am developing my own relationship with God, I was able to comprehend the various topics discussed in a deeper manner. Click link for full story
Reflections on Keeping Young Adults in the Catholic Church
I see the kids and teens in my own church and while they may not be on fire with their faith yet, I see that spark that will soon ignite and want so much for them to keep that spark ignited. I want them to join their church committees, be a true member. I want them to stay with their faith and profess to the world that yes we are black, we are Catholic and we are just as on fire with our faith as other Christians. Click link for full story
Words from YOUTH that attended the NBCC (National Black Catholic Congress)
Reflections from YOUTH that attended the NBCC (National Black Catholic Congress) with pictures. Click link for full story
The Princess Within: 3 Steps to Realizing Your True Identity
The attack on our feminine souls can be strong and relentless. The war on our identity can seem like a never-ending nightmare. Where can you turn to find relief? Where can you go to find the answers to who you really are? How can you begin to realize that you are beautiful and perfect, a true princess? Click link for full story
The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction
The more we learn, the better we may be able to understand the abilities and vulnerabilities of teens, and the significance of this stage for life-long mental health. Click link for full story

Here’s another witty ditty, pinned by Academy and Grammy Award-winning songwriter Curtis Mayfield, in the song popularized by The Staple Singers:

“Let’s Do It Again ! …”

That’s exactly what the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Office of Black Catholic Ministries (OBCM) did recently, through its Harambee Youth & Young Adult Enrichment Network. They did it again! And, man, was it a blast!

By comparison to past generations, today’s young people are, well, different. They are cyber savvy, hi-tech, hyper kinetic and given to instant gratification. They change preferences as easily as they change their clothes. For those and a myriad of other reasons, the challenge of providing programming for city youths that is both engaging and enlightening can be daunting, to say the least.

Since 1997, OBCM has sponsored a string of special events for the dual purpose of educating and enriching Baltimore’s youth parishioners. In addition to assisting where needed with a host of activities at the parish level, each year OBCM sponsors citywide collaboratives that encourage leadership development, cultural awareness, educational excellence, and spiritual enrichment in addition to annual affairs like the Mother Elizabeth Lange Awards Banquet, at which adults and youths are feted for their service in the church and larger community.

For 2015, OBCM presented the inaugural edition of its Fall Youth Retreat called, “Hidden Colors Midnight to Mid-day Freedom Ride” - a 2-weekend program of enlightenment that started with a liturgy and then a field trip to Baltimore’s Center Stage Theater, and culminated in an ambitious bus journey that would take participants from Baltimore to New York (NY) to Philadelphia (PA) to Washington (DC) and back to Baltimore - in the whirlwind span of 48 hours. The premise was simple: identify the youth and young adult leadership; intensify their learning experience; and, thereby, intensify their positive outcomes. Give young people the chance to feel history, rather than to just hear it; and you give them the chance to discern the difference between half-told truths, and what is the rich Biblical, Cultural, and Historical legacy and Heritage of People of Color. The Freedom Ride worked … prayerfully it will be replicated by the National African American Catholic Youth & Young Adult Network as a regional / national initiative.

This past October … OBCM found a way to incorporate into its annual Halloween programming an experience that was informative as it was creative; and as unforgettable as it was fun. Indeed, this year’s activity worked … and we have pictures of smiling and conscious young people listening, interacting and reflecting throughout the experience … honest!

The Project

On October 24th, OBCM sponsored “Be Not Afraid … the truth will set you free : A Youth Vocations Pilgrimage”. “Be Not Afraid” specifically focused on encouraging young people to recognize and then bravely answer God’s call to vocations in Christian ministry and service.

As lay leaders. As life partners (husbands and wives). As deacons, as church, community leaders, as priests or religious sisters ... as a single man or women … everyone has a vocation. Harambee’s planning team of parish youth ministers from St. Ambrose, St. Bernardines, Blessed Sacrament, St. Mary’s (Govans), Sts. Peter Claver and Pius V and St. Matthews developed a strategy for incorporating the vocational aspects of Christian service into an enlightening, fun teaching project.

“Be Not Afraid” featured a bus trip to Philadelphia (PA). 53 youth and chaperones participated in the project: a powerful program of fellowship and workshops hosted at St. Cyprian’s Roman Catholic Church, sandwiched between strategic spectator visits to the historic John Johnson Underground Railroad House and Museum, and the Eastern State Penitentiary. Each of the two spectator stopovers was significant. Historically, the Johnson House was significant for its role in the anti-slavery movement and the Underground Railroad ... and that many who lived and met at the house were examples of people of every walk of life who “were not afraid to listen and respond to God’s call to service”. Eastern State Penitentiary was symbolically significant to the “Be Not Afraid” initiative because it is home to one of the scariest haunted houses on the East Coast of the United States … “Be Not Afraid”!

Workshops

At St. Cyprian’s, “Be Not Afraid” culminated in an array of workshops facilitated by current Christian servants. The workshops, facilitated by Sidney Speaks … explored the “Dangers and Doubts” by which young people are beset, regarding Christian service. Workshop facilitators included (and their topics): Sr. Claudina Sanz, OSP (on the religious life); Deacon Sigfreid Presberry (diaconate); Mrs. Michelle Carter Taylor (on marriage); and Ms. Carla Cable, Jacqueline Wouldridge and Mr. Rudy Dehaney (on parenting, single life and one discerning the priesthood).

Conclusion

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As Baltimore City strives to recover from its recent infamous civil unrest - unrest that was, in the analysis of many, attributable to the paucity of meaningful programs and activities for Baltimore’s young people. Among that challenged population the pathway to success is littered with a minefield of negative risk factors: under-education, disproportionately high dropout rates, addiction challenges and the concomitant high unemployment that ensues, just to name a few.

Both because of and despite that environment, OBCM’s Harambee Network continues its tradition of providing meaningful programming for Black Catholic youths and young adults throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Their demonstrated ability to consistently engage a population that is, at times, hard-to-reach is exemplary and commendable.

The Freedom Ride. Youth Retreats. Service initiatives. Trainings. Field trips. And, now “Be Not Afraid”. Yet another invaluable experience to which 53 youth and young adults might not otherwise have been privy. Yeah, “Let’s Do It Again”. And, certainly, we should “… show them all the beauty they possess inside; give them a sense of pride”. You bet. But now, another song’s lyrics come to mind. Short, by today’s songwriting standards, the song was written by Rebecca Weston, circa 1885. It’s entitled “Father, We Thank Thee”. In the context of OBCM’s relentless, excellent work, the relevant lyrics are:

“(Father) help us to do the things we should, to be to others kind and good,
in all we do, in all we say, to grow more loving every day.”

Amen!

Howard W. Roberts, Program Coordinator, Harambee

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