With Open Hearts: As we welcome our new Black Catholic Pastoral Plan

February 23, 2018

Contemplative Prayers for Reconciliation and Healing of Racism

With Open Hearts: As we welcome our new Black Catholic Pastoral Plan


On February 1st at St. Francis Parish in Milwaukee the Black Catholic Steering Committee proudly presented to Archbishop Listecki Milwaukee’s new Black Catholic Pastoral Plan. It is boldly entitled Faith Forward:  The Black Catholic Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  This is a pivotal document for the Archdiocese and includes an extensive history of Black Catholics from programs and activities that occurred both inside of the parishes and outside in the broader realm of society.  The plan has five major focus areas with corresponding goals and strategies.  The goals are congruent with the mission and goals of the Archdiocese and the Synod, the National Black Catholic Congress Pastoral Plan, and local input.  The goals fall within the following focus areas:  Promoting Vocations, Formation/Developing Leaders Across the Lifespan, Evangelization, Sacraments and Liturgy, and Racial and Social Justice.  Much time, effort and input was put into developing this plan.  Even more time will be needed to implement it.  It is important that each and every Catholic in this diocese familiarize themselves with this document so that we may move forward together as one Catholic Community uniting many different people.  We are the Body of Christ made of many members, yet we are one.  We are all inextricably linked through the Eucharist and thus we are all called to work together to do our part to see that the important goals stated in this document come to fruition. No matter what race, ethnic, or cultural heritage(s) we are called to work together in prayer and action.

For all of us, and especially our black Catholics here in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, we offer the inspiration of the Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry:

“We are Catholic Christians, so we can do this. We are Pilgrim Christians moving toward the kingdom, so we can do this.  We respect one another, so we can do this.  We love our Catholic faith, so we can do this.  We are asked to do something new. Others will look back in history to our moment, at our faith and good works and hopefully applaud us for some courageous steps, so we can do this.  For this is what it means to be black and Catholic in these times.  This is what vibrant faith and practice asks of us at this moment.”

Looking back at our history we offer our sadness, regret and apologies for the actions and inactions that alienated and oppressed our black brothers and sisters.  Looking forward we offer our hearts, hands and voices as we implement this plan– Faith Forward.

Prayer for Centering

Lord, Lord, Open Unto Me

Open unto me, light for my darkness
Open unto me, courage for my fear
Open unto me, hope for my despair
Open unto me, peace for my turmoil
Open unto me, joy for my sorrow
Open unto me, strength for my weakness
Open unto me, wisdom for my confusion
Open unto me, forgiveness for my sins
Open unto me, tenderness for my toughness
Open unto me, love for my hates
Open unto me, Thy Self for myself
Lord, Lord, open unto me!

– Howard Thurman, from “Meditations of the Heart”
Thurman who was born in 1899 and raised in the segregated South. He is recognized as one of the great spiritual leaders of the 20th century renowned for his reflections on humanity and our relationship with God. Thurman was a prolific author (writing at least 20 books); perhaps the most famous is Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), which deeply influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Thurman was the first black person to be a tenured Dean at a PWI (Boston University). He also cofounded the first interracially pastored, intercultural church in the US.

Invitation to Silence
Faith Forward

The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father, forgive.

The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father, forgive.

The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Father, forgive.

Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Father, forgive.

Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
Father, forgive.

The lust which dishonors the bodies of men, women and children,
Father, forgive.

The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Father, forgive.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.


Weekly Reflection Questions:

  1. How might you and your faith community come together to read and study the new Black Catholic Pastoral Plan?

  2. Why is it important that all people of good will work together to implement this plan?


February 26, 5:00pm, Tippecanoe Branch (Milwaukee Public Library), 3912 S Howell Ave.: “How We Got Here” by Reggie Jackson, Head Griot, America’s Black Holocaust Museum https://www.facebook.com/events/516048475460761/

February 27, 7:00pm, Jewish Museum Milwaukee, 1360 N Prospect: “Redlining, Racism and Reflection: Where from Here?” with multiple speakers, $8 https://www.facebook.com/events/355758451565067/

March 10, 2018, 5:15 PM – A Healing Mass for the City of Milwaukee, co-presided by Fr. Tim Kitzke, Vicar General for Urban Ministry and Fr. Mike Hammer, Archdiocesan AIDS Ministry

The Pastoral Plan from the National Black Catholic Congress (released in Nov. ’17): https://nebula.wsimg.com/96557e126389b688f85933c9e207c67f?AccessKeyId=BC1D04F48C0411888F51&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

– A timeline done in honor of Black History Month documenting some of the more notable contributions of Black Catholics: https://www.nbccongress.org/history-of-black-catholics.html

Building Resilience for Racial Justice:
A 40-Day Journey into Our Emotional Selves

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 6:00pm to 7:30pm at the Shorewood Village Center
This opening session introduces shared vocabulary, contemplative practices, and intentions/goals for the 40-day practice. We’ll look at how our intersectional identities position us in the work for racial justice and how we can build emotional literacies (embodied awareness, knowledge, response-abilities) to act from our social positions.

Practicing Interventions: An Interactive Workshop Using Theatre of the Oppressed
Sunday, Mar. 4, 11:30am – 2:30pm at Plymouth Church
Using theatre of the oppressed, we will witness and then stop the re-enactment of troubling scenes, suggest/act alternative resolutions, and actively analyze interventions into everyday microaggressions. The process of re-enacting troubling scenes, stopping them, and rehearsing alternatives enables us to see possibilities for change. This process equips us to act in our everyday lives for racial justice.

Looking to What’s Next: Continuing the Work for the Long Haul
Sunday, March 25th, 10:30 – noon at Plymouth Church
As a closing to the 40-day practice, this session looks both backward—at what’s come up or been revealed through contemplative practices—and forward—toward what we can do individually and collectively. Together, we’ll ask “what’s next?” and set intentions that may lead to individual or group action plans.

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