I come from a family with diverse religious traditions: Baptist, Methodist, Apostolic, Buddhist and nondenominational. My mother was a spiritual seeker, and when she became Catholic, I was baptized into the Catholic faith as a young child.
Growing up, I attended a parish with Irish, Polish and black Catholics, and observed that the spiritual gifts of black Catholics were often diminished. When it was suggested that we include a gospel song in the liturgy, we were told that was not Catholic. “Ave Maria” was sung, but not “Mary had a Baby,” a Negro spiritual. I learned about St. Theresa the “Little Flower,” but not St. Benedict the Black. A Kwanzaa table was a no-no.
I learned while the word “catholic” meant “universal” and “involving all,” much of the gifts and experience of black Catholics were not included.
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