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How Long, Lord?

The following statement has been released by Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, superior general of the Josephites.

How Long, Lord?

The African American Catholic community joins others in collective grief over the most recent attacks on the lives of brothers and sisters in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. While deeply saddened, we must not allow our grief to lull us into inaction or hopeless resignation. We must not allow ourselves to become desensitized to these events. Rather, our grief must propel us to confront these heinous acts and any other acts that seek to demean, disrespect, or destroy God’s children.

While these are the most recent attacks, they are far from the only acts. They are linked to a broader effort to divide and disparage humanity. We offer brief, but not exhaustive, suggestions for moving forward, acknowledging that inaction leaves the door open for continued hatred and future acts of violence.

1. Acknowledge and confront racist hate speech, white supremacy, and white nationalism wherever it is observed. As God’s children, we must confront measures that seek to diminish the humanity of anyone. Incendiary language, especially when spoken by leaders, must be confronted and denounced. This is especially core to us as Catholics. Each of us is made in the image and likeness of God; therefore, hate speech and promotion of one race over another enact hatred upon our God. Hate speech not only encourages and inspires others to inflict violence as we have witnessed, but it also informs the way legislation is passed and important decisions are made. It impacts the way we treat one another.

2. Advocate for legislation that will significantly reduce not only the number of semi-automatic weapons on our streets but also the number of handguns. This could include background checks, waiting periods, bans, support of gun buy-back programs, and the like. Semi-automatic weapons and weapons in the hands of young people in urban areas have deadly consequences.

3. Advocate for more resources to be spent in areas of economic development, urban community revitalization, mental health treatment, domestic violence prevention, and education.

4. Increase efforts to promote and lobby for comprehensive immigration reform. Seek out and join coalitions and organizations working to pass this legislation. We must end separation of families and the inhumane treatment of children on the border. We acknowledge that people have a right to make asylum claims and remain in the United States while these claims are being processed.

5. Invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit. We encourage prayer for the victims of violence and their families, as well as those persons who inflict violence. Pray for a conversion of hearts and for the energy and faith to confront racism and violence whenever it emerges.

We are not satisfied in believing that these cruel acts are caused by a single issue. The connection and relationship between all these issues must be addressed in unison.

We share these reflections as pastors, religious, clergy, and laity in urban, suburban, and rural communities from parishes from all over the United States. We offer these reflections based on that which we have seen and heard, based on shared solutions, shared realities, and a shared love for all of God’s children.

The new Leadership Team for the Josephite Priests & Brothers


Dear Friends of the Josephites:
At the quadrennial meeting of Josephites in June, leadership was elected for the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

I am honored to have been selected as Superior General at the June meeting in Louisiana. The Josephites have been a steady presence throughout my life, which started in Louisiana. At this moment in our history, which traces back to 1871, I ask for your prayers as I begin this new responsibility and mission.

Soon I will be moving from Washington, where I had been serving as rector of St. Joseph Seminary, to the Josephite headquarters in Baltimore.

I am blessed to have an excellent group of collaborators in Josephite leadership. Father Thomas Frank, SSJ, was selected vicar general. He previously served four years as consultor general. Father Ray Bomberger, an experienced Josephite pastor who will continue to serve the St. Peter Claver parish in West Baltimore, was selected to serve as the new consultor general.

Area Directors were also elected. These four Josephites will be the primary point of contact with our parishes and ministries in their regions of the country. Those selected are: Father Cornelius, Ejiogu, Father Godwin Ani, Father Joseph Benjamin and Father Kenneth Keke.

I commend Father Michael Thompson for his leadership. In his four years as superior general, he took on significant issues that laid the groundwork for future mission opportunities in the African-American community. His energy and enthusiasm were a catalyst for change and set a course for growth.

Also, Father Roderick Coates commendably served four years as vicar general. He led the successful 125th anniversary celebration and provided support to our priests and parishes in many ways.

The new leadership team, with God’s help and your support, will continue to provide the men and means for the Josephite mission.

Bishop John H. Ricard, Superior General


Read more about the General Council member’s here.

2020 Josephite African American History and Educational Calendar

The 2020 Josephite African American History and Educational Calendar is now available! Order for yourself, a friend, or your parish! The calendar gives homage to the Seven Sacraments and to the six Black American Catholic candidates for Sainthood who lived sacramental, spirit filled lives.

Order today!

Donate Today

The Josephites are dedicated to work, live, give and share – in the African American community – all that God has taught through His Church and the life of his Son, Jesus Christ. We need your support to continue this important mission. Please consider donating to the Josephites today. God bless you.

Josephites celebrate 125 years of ministry with Mass at Baltimore Basilica

Over the weekend of November 16th, hundreds of people came to Baltimore to celebrate The Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, The Josephites, 125 years of ministry in the African American Community.

The Mass and Banquet were joyous events with Josephite priests and brothers, religious sisters, and dedicated men and women who serve in this important ministry.

With the help of our generous donors, we have built churches and schools, provided formation for priests and brothers and collaborated with other religious communities and lay leaders to share the Good News.

Read the homily that was given by Father Michael Thompson, SSJ. And, see all the photos from the Mass and the Banquet.

If you would like to donate to support the Josephites’ mission, please do so here.

2019 Josephite African-American History and Heritage Calendar

The Josephite Calendar is an evangelistic and educational tool as well as an excellent resource for important dates and events.
Each month is represented by a Sacred Scripture verse and art work of African-American influence.

Black Catholic History Month Called Chance to Learn, Share Rich History

A woman and man pray during Mass Feb. 5 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. November is National Black Catholic History Month, a time the U. S. Catholic Church sets aside to recall the rich history of black Catholicism and the many and important contributions African-Americans have made to the church. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) See BLACK-CATHOLIC-HISTORY Nov. 6, 2017.

Black Catholic History Month was initiated in 1990 by the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States. November was chosen because it holds two commemorative dates for prominent African Catholics: St. Augustine of Hippo, whose birthday is Nov. 13; and St. Martin de Porres, whose feast day is Nov. 3.

CHARLESTON, South Carolina – Sister Roberta Fulton, principal of St. Martin de Porres School in Columbia, gets excited every year about National Black Catholic History Month.

She said that during the November celebration, she looks for ways to share how black Catholics have helped make the church what it is today.

The principal, a member of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur of Buffalo, New York, is from Kingstree and noted that as the only black religious sister from the state of South Carolina, she is a living example of what the month is all about.

Black Catholic History Month was initiated in 1990 by the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States. November was chosen because it holds two commemorative dates for prominent African Catholics: St. Augustine of Hippo, whose birthday is Nov. 13; and St. Martin de Porres, whose feast day is Nov. 3.

Every year, St. Martin de Porres School kicks off the month by celebrating the feast of the school’s patron. The well-known saint is followed by lessons on lesser known figures, such as the three African popes – Sts. Victor I, Melchiades and Gelasius I – who led the early church through much turmoil.

Several dozen saints fill the pages of history, from Monica and Augustine of Hippo to Perpetua and Felicitas.

There also are many new names of black Catholic church figures up for canonization, including religious from the Oblate Sisters of Providence and Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary. Both of these orders have served in the Diocese of Charleston.

Fulton said the schoolteachers evangelize while they teach, making it fun through trivia, spelling bees, bingo and more.

“I get so excited,” she told The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the statewide Diocese of Charleston. “It’s a big celebration for us. We try to open people to the richness of the history.”

The Charleston Diocesan Office of Ethnic Ministries offers the following ideas for celebrating the month:

– Read “The History of Black Catholics in the United States” by Benedictine Father Cyprian Davis, who was known as the top chronicler of black Catholic history; “Oblate Sisters of Providence: A Pictorial History” by Sharon C. Knecht; and/or “Father Augustus Tolton: The First Recognized Black Catholic Priest in America” by Corinna Laughlin and Maria Laughlin.

– Talk about “What We Have Seen and Heard: A Reflection and Dialogue on Peace,” a pastoral letter written by Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois.

– Involve youth in discussion using the new African American Catholic Youth Bible.

– Hold a music night on “Negro Spirituals.”

– Show the movie “Bakhita: From Slave to Saint,” about St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped at age 6 by Arab slave traders. Treated brutally, she was sold and resold five times. Sold to an Italian diplomat when she was still a teen, she met the Canossian Sisters. She was baptized in 1890, was freed and professed vows in the order in 1896. She died in 1947 and was canonized in 2000.

– Display the pictorial exhibit of the “History of Black Catholics in the Diocese of Charleston.”

– Give copies of “My Little Black Catholic History Book” to children.

Black Catholic history dates back to the Acts of the Apostles with the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch by St. Philip the Evangelist.

The National Black Catholic Congress notes the importance of the text from Acts for several reasons. It chronicles the conversion of the first black African in recorded Christian history. The text suggests that the man was a wealthy, literate and powerful emissary of the Nubian queen and also a faithful, practicing Jew prior to his baptism and that his conversion takes place before that of St. Paul’s.

Taylor is a reporter at The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston.






2018 Josephite African-American History and Heritage Calendar

The Josephite Calendar is an evangelistic and educational tool as well as an excellent resource for important dates and events. Celebrate and learn about African-American history and heritage everyday of the year.

Subscribe to the Harvest

Renew Your Subscription Today!

Thank you for subscribing to The Josephite Harvest. As a reader, you are supporting Catholic ministry in the African American community. We are now asking you to renew your subscription.

For nearly 150 years, we Josephite priests and brothers have been serving in the African American community. We have a proud history that started shortly after the Civil War. From the East Coast to the West Coast, we are serving in parishes and schools and special ministries.

Why should you renew your subscription to The Josephite Harvest?

The Josephite Harvest is the oldest Catholic mission magazine in continuous publication in the United States. Established in 1888, the The Josephite Harvest is published quarterly to keep its readers current and aware of the work in the Josephite apostolate. The Josephite Harvest:

  • Encourages devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and our patron, St. Joseph.
  • Fosters racial and cultural understanding and reconciliation.
  • Makes known the achievements of African Americans influenced by the Catholic Faith.
  • Recognizes the labors of clergy and lay persons evangelizing African Americans.

You can renew now for the incredibly low price of $10.

By renewing now, you help promote the evangelizing ministry of St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart.
Your subscription continues an enduring bond with Josephite benefactors and friends who support
African American ministry
. When you subscribe you are united with more than 100,000 Josephite Harvest readers.

Stay connected to the Josephite mission and the African American community.
Thank you for renewing your subscription to The Josephite Harvest today.

Yours in Christ,

Father Michael Thompson, SSJ
Superior General & Publisher