Social Justice Committee chairman Deacon Maurice Moon (Diocese of Fort Worth, at left, above) invited an alumnus speaker, Rev. Anthony Chandler, to speak at Theological College at the beginning of February because “his background and education in the history of African-American Catholics would be very helpful to men studying for the priesthood. I knew that Father Chandler could offer us new ways to understand the African-American community and how we might do a better job engaging and evangelizing this community.”

Father Chandler graciously accepted, reminding seminarians, “Black History Month is not only a chance to remember the struggles faced by the African-American community throughout the centuries, it is also an opportunity to learn from the witness of one of the oldest communities of Catholics in the United States.” He pointed out that the witness of black Catholics, in the face of discrimination and hatred, is a “gift” from which all Catholics can learn.

In his talk, Father Chandler emphasized that one of the key factors is awareness. “I think that it is important for Catholics to grapple with the history of discrimination within the Church. Although much has changed, there is still much that needs to change. Just this November, the USCCB established a new committee on racism,” he explained. Going forward, he urged the seminarians to continue to inform themselves about this history, and to get to know the people they will minister to, taking people as individuals and practicing the “ministry of presence.”