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Black Catholic Young Adults

Meeting Them Where They're At

Eric came to my office one week after I started my ministry position with the local church. He said he needed to speak to me. I was excited to see him and hoped to get him involved in the youth ministry. I was not expecting what followed. Eric told me he had to drop out of school and “get in the game” (i.e., sell drugs) to provide for his family. His mom, who had been the sole provider for the family, was unable to support the family anymore because she had been injured at her job; they were already barely making ends meet. Eric was not prepared to get a job, and the limited opportunities available drove him to believe that he was forced to choose a lifestyle of “getting in the game.” He saw no other options, he had no other hope.

Article Index
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

As a youth minister I longed to help this young man see another way. I tried my best to help him see options, to choose another lifestyle. I looked for resources to help Eric find some sense of hope, spiritual resources rooted in our Catholic faith, but I found none that spoke to the Black Catholic youth experience. So, just as I have had to do many times in the past, I tried to tweak other Catholic youth resources and adapt them to the unique realities of young Black Catholics.

The release of The African American Catholic Youth Bible (Saint Mary‘s Press 2015) is a major and important step forward, because it is the first time a Bible has been designed to speak directly to the lives and realities of Black Catholic young people. It speaks to our Black Catholic youth at the crossroads of their struggles and their longing for hope. The life of many African-American youth today is not an easy one. They are confronted with many challenges:

  • Economic isolation, unemployment, and underemployment-An unfair “for profit” criminal justice system
  • Violence and drugs
  • The negative portrayal of Black culture by media
  • Failing schools
  • Fractured Black communities and families

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In 2015 we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement and the 31st anniversary of the pastoral letter “What We Have Seen and Heard,” written by the Black bishops of the United States. Today we finally have a Bible for Black Catholic youth that inspires hope, consoles suffering, and celebrates the gift and beauty of the African-American experience. The African American Catholic Youth Bible contains relevant, engaging, and affirming articles, images, and historical maps that speak to the heart of the Black young person‘s realities and experiences. Most importantly, The African American Catholic Youth Bible values the gifts that the Black Catholic experience brings to the wider Church. Black youth will find images of Jesus and other biblical and modern people of faith that look like us.

In a time when the oral tradition and history of the African American story is fading, this Bible preserves and retells the great and important stories of faith, struggle, and survival unique to the African American community. It encourages the awareness of young Black Catholics of who they are, but more importantly whose they are as children of God.

Eric was not convinced of hope; he was not able to trust in “another way.” Due to the choices he felt he had to make, his path led to the lock up and he died in prison. I can‘t help but wonder, if I had been able to put a Bible, such as The African American Catholic Youth Bible, in his hands that day in my office, would he have been able to see his life differently? Would he, and so many other Black youth like him, have been able to see the value of their lives, and of their neighbors, despite the hardships they face?

Not all Black youth share Eric‘s realities. Each has their own experiences, some more positive than others. But many of our Black youth are caught in a cycle of hopelessness and feel they have to make certain choices just to survive. The African American Catholic Youth Bible is an extraordinary resource for those of us who work with Black Catholic youth around the country and beyond to help them see themselves reflected in the great story of faith. This Bible helps us realize the dream that Black young people will see that their lives and circumstances matter to the Church that they may believe does not care about or value their experiences. It meets Black youth where they are at, as Jesus met people in his earthly ministry, and it serves as a companion in their journey of seeking an identity, dignity, worth, and hope for a future.

The words of Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, in her address to the United States Catholic bishops in 1989 (http://vimeo.com/12379716), ring true still today. Her words speak to the importance and urgency of bringing this Bible to the hands and hearts of our Black youth: “What does it mean to be black and Catholic? It means that I come to my church fully functioning. That doesn‘t frighten you, does it? I come to my church fully functioning. I bring myself, my black self, all that I am, all that I have, all that I hope to become, I bring my whole history, my traditions, my experience, my culture, my African American song and dance and gesture and movement and teaching and preaching and healing and responsibility as gift to the Church.” For the first time in our history, an African American Catholic Youth Bible has come forward to recognize and celebrate the beauty, challenges, and gift of the Black experience for the Church and the world.

*The African American Catholic Youth Bible (2015) is a publication of Saint Mary‘s Press in partnership with the National Black Catholic Congress. It is available January 5, 2015, through Saint Mary‘s Press (www.smp.org), Amazon.com and other Catholic and general bookstores. ISBN: 978-1-59982-110-8.

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