Monday, February 1, 2010

Black History Month and The National Black Catholic Congress

February is Black History Month. For this reason, during this month I will be posting entries on Catholics of African descent. Today, February 1, I bring to your attention, the organization, The National Black Catholic Congress. Here is the organization's mission statement:

We, The National Black Catholic Congress, comprised of member organizations, represent African American Roman Catholics, working in collaboration with National Roman Catholic organizations. We commit ourselves to establishing an agenda for the evangelization of African Americans; and to improve the spiritual, mental, and physical conditions of African Americans, thereby committing ourselves to the freedom and growth of African Americans as full participants in church and society. Aware of the challenges, we are committed to evangelize ourselves, our church and unchurched African Americans, thereby enriching the Church. We hold ourselves accountable to our baptismal commitment to witness and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ."

And here is a brief bio of the NBCC's founder, Daniel Rudd:

Daniel Rudd, founder of the National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC, was born August 7, 1854 to Robert and Elizabeth Rudd. Daniel was one of 12 children. His father was a slave on the Rudd estate near Bardstown, Kentucky and his mother was a slave of the Hayden family in Bardstown. Both parents were Catholic.

After the Civil War, Daniel Rudd moved to Springfield, Ohio (where his elder brother, Robert Rudd, was living), in order to get a secondary-school education. There in 1886 he began a Black newspaper which was called the "Ohio State Tribune." That same year, Rudd changed the focus of this weekly newspaper and gave it a new name, "American Catholic Tribune," the only Catholic Journal owned and published by Colored men. The newsletter is presently published by the NBCC as the African American Catholic Tribune newsletter.

In 1889, Daniel Rudd called together the very first National Black Catholic Congress. This meeting was held at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. Distinguished men of African descent came from all over the United States to participate in this historic event. President Grover Cleveland invited them to the White House for a meeting. Fr. Augustus Tolton, the first recognized Black priest ordained for the United States of America, was present and celebrated High Mass.

Daniel Rudd orchestrated five Black Congresses in his time. One was held in 1894 at St. Peter Claver Church Hall, in Baltimore, Maryland, and an opening dinner was held at historic St. Francis Xavier Church on the east side of the city. Fr. Cyprian Davis, OSB, noted historian, states that Daniel Rudd is one of the most important figures of the nineteenth and twentieth century since he published the newspaper and promoted the Congresses.

1 comment: said...

I think it is important to recognize the achievements of key African-American people, both living and deceased. Society has come a long way over the last several decades, and blacks have accomplished more than what most people ever expected. Fifty or so years ago, who would have imagined that there would be a black President of the United States? Clearly, African-Americans have been successful, and are clearly capable of great things.