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CURRENT ISSUE:  February 7, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Walk for Life draws a youthful crowd
Q&A with parishoner dedicating life to God
Parishes plan activities
for Black History Month

Throughout the month of February, many African-American Catholics in the Oakland Diocese are taking the time to remember and celebrate the contributions that black Americans and people of African descent have made in U.S. history and culture.

Although no diocesanwide commemoration is planned, several parishes are sponsoring special Black History programs or activities.

At Oakland’s St. Columba Parish the annual African American Catholic series has become one of the most widely known Black History Month activities in the East Bay. The theme for this year’s series is “God Will Take Care of You,” and the program features guest speakers and homilists from around the country.

The first guest speaker, Father Maurice Knutt, pastor at Holy Names of Jesus and Mary Church in Memphis, Tennessee, launched the series on Jan. 23. The series continued with Divine Word Father Kenneth Hamilton from the Bowman-Francis Ministry to African American Young Adults in Oakland on Jan. 30; and Pierre Labossiere, co-founder, Haiti Action Committee on Feb. 6.

The remaining guest speakers and homilists are: Divine Word Father Kwame Assenyoh, a doctoral degree candidate at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and clergy support at St. Columba on Feb. 13; Jesuit Father Gregory Chisholm, pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Oakland and assistant professor at Jesuit Theological Union in Berkeley, on Feb. 20; and Deacon Dunn Cumby from Corpus Christi Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on Feb. 27. Each will speak at the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. liturgies.

Also on Feb. 27, the Rawn Harbor Gospel Workshop Choir will take part in the series. Rawn Harbor is pastoral associate at St. Columba Parish; adjunct faculty member and director of liturgy and music at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley; adjunct faculty and director of the Gospel choir, University of San Francisco; and coordinator of liturgy and adjunct instructor, Xavier University of Louisiana.

St. Columba Church is located at 6401 San Pablo Ave. For more information: www.stcolumbao.com.

St. Patrick Parish, also in Oakland, is offering the community a program of education and celebration. Each week the community will focus on a theme.

The focus was on Black cultural history on Feb. 6. The program also included a pancake breakfast prepared by the parish’s Men’s Group/Knights of Peter Claver.

On Feb. 13 health concerns among African Americans will be highlighted. Several health professionals have been invited to speak, Father Chisholm told The Voice. After the Mass, all are encouraged to attend a healthy salad luncheon or visit the small Farmer’s Market in the Father Howard Center.

Feb. 20 marks the start of a revival with the theme: Christians Moving Toward the Light. Father Anthony Bozeman, pastor at St. Anthony and St. Leo Parish in New Orleans will lead the revival. He will preach at the Masses at 10 a.m. Feb. 20 and at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21, 22 and 23.

The program will conclude on Feb. 27 or Youth Sunday, with a focus on young African Americans and participation in the liturgy by young African Americans. Divine Father Kwame Assenyoh, studying at the GTU in Berkeley, will be presider and preacher at the Mass.

St. John the Baptist Parish, 11150 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, will welcome two guest speakers to reflect on the commemoration of Black History Month on Feb. 20. Father Jay Matthews, pastor at St. Benedict Parish in Oakland, will speak at the 11 a.m. Mass and Divine Word Father Ken Hamilton will speak at the 12:30 p.m. Mass. A reception will follow the 12:30 p.m. Mass. At the reception Edna Coleman, a parishioner who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement, will share her memorabilia of the period

At St. Benedict Parish in Oakland, the congregation will also honor the winner or winners of the Ujima Award at St. Columba Parish on Feb. 20. A sacred concert of jazz featuring Joel Dorham’s octet will take place at 2 p.m. Feb. 27 in the church at 2245 - 82nd Ave.

And at Oakland’s St. Louis Bertrand Parish Black History Month will feature a program that emphasizes a different theme at the weekly 9 a.m. Mass. Family and youth will be the focus on Feb. 6; African American marriages on Feb. 13; education in the black community on Feb. 20. The month will conclude with an emphasis on African Americans in the military, especially the Buffalo Soldiers, on Feb. 27.

Entertainment, vendors, a jazz band and potluck meal will also be part of the parish’s program. Each week after the 9 a.m. Mass fellowship (a social gathering with refreshments and talk) will be held.

The parish’s planners are currently seeking speakers and an African-American priest to add to the program. For more information, contact Deborah at (510) 562-7293.

Black History Month can be traced back to 1915 when Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, and Jesse Moorland, a prominent preacher, founded an organization called the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History that searched for and shone a light on the achievements of black Americans and people of African descent. In 1926, the organization sponsored a national Negro History week and chose the second week of February for the commemoration. The birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass fell on that week.

In the decades that followed, word about the Negro History Week and the inspiration and pride it fostered spread to cities across the country. By the 1960s the commemoration of Negro History Week evolved into Black History Month.

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