Rev. Kenneth Hamilton, SVD
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.
The annual African American Celebration Series at Oakland's St. Columba, which began the weekend of Jan. 14 and 15 with a celebration of the birth of the late civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has as its theme: "From Darkness, Light Shines for the Upright." Deacon Larry Chatmon of St. Paul of the Shipwreck Church in San Francisco, was guest speaker at the weekend Masses Jan. 21 and 22. Rev. Kenneth Hamilton, SVD, is the guest speaker for the Jan. 28-29 weekend Masses (4 p.m. Jan. 28 and 8 and 10:30 a.m. Jan. 29.). The Ujima Catholic Community Service Awards are to be announced that weekend. A speaker will be announced for the Feb. 4-5 weekend Masses.
The annual observance of important people and events in African history traces back to 1925 and is held in February in the United States and Canada and in October in the United Kingdom. A specific celebration established in 1990 — national Black Catholic History Month — is celebrated in November.
Several parishes are sponsoring special Black History programs or activities to coincide with Black History Month.
Four powerful and spiritual speakers will headline the Black History Month celebration at St. Patrick Parish, 1023 Peralta St., Oakland. The services will take place at the 10:30 a.m. Masses during the month of February.
The speakers are: Rev. Tanisha L. Sparks, who has led youth ministries at Bethany Baptist Church, Delta Community Presbyterian Church and other churches in the East Bay, will speak on Feb. 5; Rev. Emmanuel Nshimbi, SJ, a Jesuit priest of the Zambia-Malawi Province who is currently studying Sacred Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, on Feb. 12; Rev. Gregory Chisholm, SJ, a former pastor of Oakland's St. Patrick Church, who currently serves as dean of Catholic parishes in the Central Harlem region in New York, on Feb. 19; and Rev. Donna Allen, founder and pastor of New Revelation Community Church in Oakland and Vallejo, on Feb. 26.
Rev. Kwame Assenyoh, SVD, will be the guest speaker for Feb. 18-19 weekend Masses; and Very Rev. Fernand Cheri, vicar general of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, will speak at weekend Masses Feb. 26-27.
The St. Columba Church Mass Gospel Choir Workshop is also scheduled to take place during the month-long series. The workshop will be Feb. 15 to 18 under the direction of M. Roger Holland II. Participants will learn new music from Holland's latest CD, "Honey from the Rock," Volumes I and II. "Music will be performed" by D. Mark Wilson and the St. Columba Gospel Choir.
The St. Benedict Church community, at 2245 82nd Ave., Oakland, will celebrate Black History Month with the lively theme, "Wake Up!" Each week the bulletin will feature interesting cultural and educational facts such as African presence in the Bible, U.S. black Catholic historical time lines and features on black leaders etc.
This year's theme will be brought to life by "Faith Sharers and Lay Ministers" from the congregation. The month-long celebration will take place at all of the weekend Masses — 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sundays. "We shall rejoice with culturally rich gospel music and lively praise and worship assisted by our Nigerian family members. All are welcome."
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