Our Lady of Hope-Tioga was packed April 29 for the opening mass commemorating 275 years of Black activity, achievement and presence in the Philadelphia-area Catholic Church.
The Our Lady of Hope Gospel Choir sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to begin the religious ceremonies. The Haitian Catholic Community Choir of Incarnation of Our Lord Parish serenaded the congregation with two spirituals that kept syncopation to bongo drums and a calypso beat.
The congregation received memorial certificates of attendance and a religious calendar naming and recognizing the almost 20,000 canonized African saints of the Catholic Church. A reception that followed featured music from the Our Lady of Hope Choir, a religious rap by Loretta the Griot and traditional performances by a teen and a pre-teen Haitian dance troupe.
Father Rayford Emmons delivered a sermon the focused on the history of Black Catholics in the Church from the time of Christ. Emmons pointed out that the Ethiopian wife of Moses, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, one of the seven original deacons appointed in the Book of Acts, and the Gospel writer Mark were all of African descent.
The Since 1743 Celebration Committee that organized the event, is sponsoring a Philadelphia Area Black Catholic History tour in late October and early November. For more information, contact the committee at (215) 787-8100.