By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published October 13, 2022
ATLANTA—Local faithful are invited to discuss the needs of Black and African Catholics at Congress XIII, scheduled for July 20-23, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland.
The event is hosted by the National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC), an organization that represents about 3 million African American Catholics within the United States to address spiritual needs within the church.
The NBCC held its first congress in 1889. With the exception of the coronavirus pandemic, it has had a congress every five years since 1987 to prepare a pastoral plan to address the needs of Black Catholics. The theme for the 2023 congress is, “Write the Vision: A Prophetic Call to Thrive.”
In preparation for next year’s event, Catholics from across the nation, including the Archdiocese of Atlanta, will gather for a day of reflection to express spiritual needs and concerns the NBCC will plan to address at Congress XIII. Atlanta Catholics interested in sharing thoughts and attending the congress are encouraged to participate.
An in-person Day of Reflection for Atlanta delegates will be Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10 a.m.- noon at the Chancery of the Atlanta Archdiocese, 2401 Lake Park Drive SE, Smyrna. A virtual Day of Reflection will be Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m.
The Georgia Bulletin asked Ashley Morris, associate director of the Office of Intercultural Ministries for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, to share more about upcoming preparations for Congress XIII. The email exchange has been edited for length.
What is the purpose of the NBCC Day of Reflection?
The Day of Reflection offers guests the opportunity to learn more about next year’s Congress and prayerfully reflect on what God desires from us as Black Catholics living and serving our archdiocese in the 21st century. The Day of Reflection also gives us the opportunity to provide guidance for the Congress’ workshops on topics of great concern to Black Catholics across the nation.
How has attending the congress in the past impacted your faith?
Attending past congress events helped expand my knowledge and experience of the faith beyond my home parishes and dioceses. I’ve been able to meet and befriend some incredible mentors and friends who are faithful and faith-filled people that offer their prayers and support and solidarity at all times.
I truly believe the congress experience helped me see and feel that agape love (biblical term for love between one another) we’re expected to share with the world from sisters and brothers in faith who know and understand the unique trials and triumphs we experience as Black Catholics. I think that’s what makes me excited to invite folks to attend our Day of Reflection and next year’s congress—I cannot grow in my own faith if I do not share what I’ve experienced at congress with others!
What do you hope Atlanta delegates will gain from the experience?
I pray that Atlanta delegates will experience a renewed enthusiasm in not only continuing to live the faith but informing and empowering current and future generations to think creatively and intentionally on how to spread the Gospel in today’s world. I also pray that those new to the congress will get the chance to connect with the heavyweights in our faith if, for nothing else, to be encouraged and supported by sisters and brothers working alongside them in the vineyard of the Lord.