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placeholder February 4, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA

The St. Columba parish choir's rousing Gospel music filled Saint Mary's College chapel Jan. 15 as hundreds of worshippers celebrated the 150th anniversary of both the Emancipation Proclamation and the college, as well as the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
James Knox/Saint Mary's College of California Courtesy photo

February a time to reflect, celebrate

For many Americans of all ethnicities, religions and cultures, February is a time to gather to reflect and celebrate the contributions of black Americans and those of African heritage during Black History Month. In the Diocese of Oakland, a number of events have been planned or have already taken place.

At Oakland's St. Columba Parish, the six-week African American Celebrations which began in mid-January to honor the legacy of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., will continue with the Rawn Harbor Experience Gospel Music Workshop, Feb. 6 to 10. The celebration concludes on Feb. 10 with a talk from guest speaker, Rev. Bryan Massingale, STD, and music from the Rawn Harbor Workshop Choir, led by the legendary musician and composer, Rawn Harbor.

Other guest speakers who participated in this year's African American Celebrations included guest speakers Rev. Ken Hamilton, SVD, (Jan. 13); Archbishop Alex J. Brunett, apostolic administrator of the Oakland diocese, (Jan. 20); Rev. George W. Quickley, SJ, pastor at St. Patrick Parish in west Oakland (Jan. 27); and Rev. Kwame Assenyoh, SVD (Feb. 3).

"United We Stand Together We Can!" is the theme of the Black History Month celebration at St. Benedict Church in Oakland. The celebration started with the MLK/Inauguration weekend with a presentation by the Omnira Institute, directed by Wanda Ravernell, formerly an editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and continued with a presentation on the theme of "We Stepped Up" by the parish's young African American Catholic adults on Jan. 26. More presentations followed the weekends of Jan. 27 and Feb. 3 with themes such as "The Results Are In" and "We Say Thank You." Speakers include Miss Julie Hadnot, Rev. Ken Hamilton, SVD, and Rev. Benedict Ehinack. The celebration will conclude at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 10.

Rev. Ken Hamilton, SVD, will speak at the Black History Mass at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at St. John the Baptist Church in El Cerrito. A reception and Black history display will follow the liturgy in the parish hall. On Jan. 20, a day before the national observance of Rev. King's birthday, Deacon Thom McGowan discussed the slain civil rights leader in his Jan. 20 homily.

The gospel choir of St. Cornelius Church will welcome the gospel choir of St. Benedict Church for Mass to celebrate Black History Month at the Richmond Parish. Father Jay Matthews, St. Benedict pastor, will celebrate the Mass at 2 p.m. on Feb. 10. A reception will follow. St. Cornelius gospel choir is raising funds for choir robes. The St. Benedict choir also performed a concert of gospel music and sang at Mass at 5 p.m. Feb. 2 at St. Stephen Church in Walnut Creek

Saint Mary's College in Moraga also observed Black History Month by hosting "Soulful & Sacred: Celebrating the Black Catholic Experience" on Jan. 15. More than 250 gathered in the Soda Center to hear Rev. Edward Branch speak and a near capacity crowd of 300 attended a Catholic Gospel concert featuring the choir from St. Columba held in the chapel.

 
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