Eighteen members from parishes around the Diocese of Toledo attended the National Black Catholic Congress

The Diocese of Toledo was well-represented with a priest, a religious sister, an evangelist, a young adult, two singers, two children, and nine additional lay-Catholics.

In mid-July, 18 members from parishes around the Diocese of Toledo traveled to Maryland for the National Black Catholic Congress.

The National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC) was started in approximately 1889, with 200 Black Catholics meeting with President Grover Cleveland at the White House to talk about issues concerning Negro Catholics whom some had been slaves, as well as having a Mass Celebrated by Fr. Augustus Tolton, himself a former slave, the first African-American Priest to be ordained for (not in) the United States of America.

The National Black Catholic Congress convenes a national congress every five years. Richard Lane, who has been a Catholic speaker and evangelist for the past 20 years, has attended the past four Congresses. “With each Congress, it is wonderful to see such a large gathering of people of the same faith tradition who are hungry for more and want to celebrate 'who we are and whose we are'. It's basically like a four-day family reunion,” Lane shared. “This is an important forum for 'us' to be able to discuss issues that concern our community, as well as understand and teach our youth the great richness of the history of our faith and our people.”

Lane described the opening Mass, the most significant part of the Congress for him:

“The most significant part of Congress to me was the opening mass. This was celebrated at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The Mass had almost 2,500 people in attendance from over 90 Dioceses around the nation. As tears of joy ran down my eyes, I watched over 200 Catholic Deacons (most African-American), 150 Priests (most African-American), 22 Bishops (of which 7 were African-American), and two Cardinals. The first gathering of this type was in 1889; with a Mass celebrated by a Black Priest who was born a slave; fast forward almost 135 years later, almost 3,000 Black Catholics gather together at the National Basilica and the Mass is presided over by the FIRST African-American Cardinal in the History of the United States. This gave new meaning to the spiritual song... 'We've come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord; trusting in His Holy Word, He never failed me yet...' Yes Lord, we've come this far by faith, but yet we have more to do.”

This year, the congress was held from July 20-23, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland. The theme for the conference was Write the Vision: A Prophetic Call to Thrive. “We were so inspired with these words, primarily because we were so stirred up in our work to keep the flame burning,” said Norma Jean Jackson. She traveled to the National Black Catholic Congress along with her husband, Darrell, and two kids. For their family, the road trip and Congress was “a great experience and something we're sure they'll never forget.”

Darrell and Norma Jean will not forget the experience anytime soon, either. Professional singers, their voices were part of the 150-member choir, and Darrell was invited to cantor the Kyrie at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. “It was a sight to behold all the bishops, priests and deacons as they processed in,” Norma Jean recalled.

See more photos from the National Black Catholic Congress below.

Richard Lane said, "I was so happy and proud that my Pastor, Fr. Mark Davis accompanied over 20 people from the Toledo Diocese on this wonderful journey. He truly enjoyed every moment of this Congress and it was such a delight to see the smile and joy of him participating and concelebrating mass with so many."

Posted August 2, 2023 at 1:46 pm