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The Subcommittee on African American Affairs e-newsletter is now available online. The July 2019 edition highlights what is going on at USCCB and beyond.

Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love - A Pastoral Letter Against Racism - Read the full text and check out the educational resources and parish resources that were created to accompany the pastoral letter against racism. Order your copy today!

50th Anniversary Initiative - Rebuilding the Bridge: In the coming year, the country will celebrate several 50th anniversaries of civil rights milestones. Check out the 50th Anniversary Initiative page for more information about these events and the contribution of Catholics to this movement.

Plenty Good Room:  This publication discusses the spirit and truth of African American Catholic Worship.

30th Anniversary of What We Have Seen and Heard: Take a look at the Black Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Evangelization to see what the bishops were saying and how it is still relevant today. Now available in Spanish!

CCCE 2019 Montage Image Respect Life Program 2019 Book  - Rebuking the Devil Christus Vivit Montage Image

African American Affairs


The Subcommittee on African American Affairs (SCAAA) is the official voice of the African American Catholic community. The subcommittee attends to the needs and aspirations of African American Catholics regarding issues of pastoral ministry, evangelization, social justice, worship, development of leaders and other areas of concern. The subcommittee also seeks to be a resource for the all Bishops and the entire Catholic Church in the United States. It aims to articulate the socio-cultural dimension of the African American Catholic community and identify or create resources that would allow for an authentic integration of the richness of African American Catholic culture and the Catholic Church in the United States.

Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry

Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Chicago
Vicar for Vicariate VI
Chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs

Subcommittee Members

Family Affair - Reflection by donna Grimes, Assistant Director

“Blood is thicker than mud” – Sylvester Stone

During the historic meeting with the Black Catholic Community of New Orleans on September 12, 1987, Saint Pope John Paul II said,

“I am sure that you share with me a special concern for the most basic human community, the family.  Your faithful Christian families are a source of comfort in the face of the extraordinary pressures affecting society. Today, you must rediscover the spirit of family life which refuses to be destroyed in the face of even the most oppressive forces. Surely that spirit can be found in exploring your spiritual and cultural heritage. The inspiration you draw from the great men and women of your past will then allow your young people to see the value of a strong family life. Know that the Pope stands united with the black community as it rises to embrace its full dignity and lofty destiny.”

African American families wrestle with myriad challenges - some endemic to marriage and family life, others emerging from our particular situation. Before tapping out, let’s recognize our families as a prominent source of strength and resiliency.  As Andrew and Terri Lyke affirmed, “Black families are holy.  Black families matter.”  More precisely, “Black families are worthy of the focused attention of the Catholic Church; worthy of the resources; and worthy of a carefully formed, intentional strategy for effective outreach by Catholic Marriage and Family Life ministers. (Read Marriage on A Lampstand: Exploring a New Paradigm for Modern Christian Marriage).

Even if the Church at large never offers assistance, the important question concerns whether Black Catholic leaders prioritize marriage and family life ministry; and conceive such through a Black Catholic lens. To echo John Paul II, exploring our spiritual and cultural heritage is a reliable vehicle for rediscovering the spirit of family life.

In Amoris Laetitia #79, Pope Francis noted, “[P]astors are to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition.” The Subcommittee on African American Affairs (SCAAA) is ramping up efforts in marriage and family life ministry in 2019-2020. Previously, we worked with the junior division of the Knights of Peter Claver, Inc., to understand the perceptions of adolescents and amplify positive images of sacramental marriage. Our 2018 online survey of diocesan liaisons affirmed the need for USCCB and the local church to bolster African American families. Since at least 2002 through a national consultation, Offices of Black Catholics expressed the desire.

In February 2019, SCAAA conducted a focus group on the subject. Ongoing consultations with Arusi Network and others skilled in this ministry will shape a vibrant national campaign that is culturally responsive to the needs of Black Catholic families.

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