Category: Josephite News

2017 March for Life – Washington DC January 27

St Joseph’s in Alexandria, VA hosted 150 High School pilgrims from Fargo, ND for masses during their time here for the March for Life.

2017 March for Life - Washington DC January 27 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 26

2017 March for Life - Washington DC January 27 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 27

2017 March for Life - Washington DC January 27 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 27A

2017 March for Life - Washington DC January 27 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 28

2017 March for Life - Washington DC January 27 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 29

2017 March for Life - Washington DC January 27 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 30

2017 March for Life - Washington DC January 27 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 31

2017 March for Life - Washington DC January 27 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 32

2017 March for Life - Washington DC January 27 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 33

St. Joseph Catholic Church holds Mass and reception for Fargo North Dakota Pilgrims

Photos from the Fargo North Dakota Pilgrims Mass and reception at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA – January 26, 2017.

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 2

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 4

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 6

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 7

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 7A

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 8

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 9

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 22

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 23

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 26

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 27

Pilgrims from Fargo North Dakota at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA - January 26, 2017 (Photo taken by Phyllis L. Johnson) 28

US Bishops Release Road Map to Improve Race Relations

A new report, released this month, comes in response to racial tensions that the country faced throughout 2016.

Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On a Wednesday morning in September, more than 500 people packed the pews of Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church to grieve the death of Justin Carr, a young black man they would bury at 26 years old.

Just a week before his Sept. 28 funeral, Justin “Jroc” Carr, a Catholic and expectant new father, while standing between two ministers at a protest over police brutality in front of Charlotte’s Omni Shoreham Hotel, was shot by a young black man whose motives are still not clear. He died after receiving last rites from his pastor, Father Carl Del Giudice.

His mother, Vivian, told the Register that her son came downtown to protest peacefully with one goal in mind: He wanted to draw attention to society’s treatment of African-Americans in Charlotte and the rest of the United States — just as his grandmother had done during the 1960s’ civil-rights movement.

“He was fighting for a cause and for what he believed in,” Vivian told the Register.

The aftermath of Carr’s death and others like it showed many Catholics, particularly minorities, looking toward the institutional Church for leadership on issues of race. The Diocese of Charlotte became one of many dioceses in 2016 that came face-to-face with the realization that the Church needed to do more to actively help society heal its racial wounds and address the root causes of violence in communities.

Thanks to the work of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Special Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities, U.S. bishops and the faithful in parishes have a blueprint, with the January release of a 29-page report.

The 20-member task force was led by Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, who presented the task force’s findings to the bishops at last November’s general assembly in Baltimore. Archbishop Gregory is one of eight black prelates in the Church in the United States.

In his presentation, Archbishop Gregory explained that while the USCCB’s past statements on race were an important foundation, the special task force found they were “not sufficient” for the Church, which was being called upon to actively involve itself in communities with its “bold prophetic voice.”

Special Task Force Report

The task force report made general recommendations for both dioceses and the USCCB that outlined how they could make a long-term commitment to addressing the root problems of race relations, systemic racism and violence in communities. Archbishop Gregory stressed to bishops in November that the task force’s recommendations were “ongoing” and not intended to provide “one-time solutions.”

The report outlined how dioceses and the bishops’ conference could take effective action. Among its recommendations were prayer throughout the year, including Masses, Rosaries, ecumenical and interfaith services, and having bishops convene and host local dialogues that could bring together disparate community members, religious representatives, youth and members of law enforcement. It recommended parish-based and diocesan-based initiatives to educate the faithful, clergy and church staff on race relations and related issues, and foster opportunities for them to see firsthand the challenges in their own and others’ communities and understand how the Church can act.

The task force also encouraged both the USCCB and diocesan bishops to identify ways the Catholic Campaign for Human Development could be used to support their efforts.

It also recommended the USCCB expedite a statement on racism in society from the full body of bishops; develop closer collaboration on civil rights between various USCCB offices and key groups, such as the National Black Catholic Congress; and make the National Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities an annual event.

As well, the report conveyed the views of law enforcement representatives, who said the Church could provide a forum for police and community members to talk, encourage police departments to become more transparent, use its voice to hold public servants accountable, and work with law enforcement to care for the neighborhoods surrounding their churches.

The task force report also noted the Church must examine its own actions, including its hiring practices and the impact on the communities of the closing of parishes and schools.

Bishops Empowered

The report was greeted by bishops at the bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore, particularly by bishops who have been already engaged in healing race relations and violence in communities.

“I welcome it. It’s exactly what we should be doing as bishops,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore told the Register. Baltimore was struck by civil unrest after the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, an African-American man killed while in police custody. Archbishop Lori explained that “deep and systemic problems” were afflicting the city, and the protests following Gray’s death heightened his awareness that the Church needs to re-engage, listen and work closely with the community to solve these issues. The “pool of resources and wisdom” in the task force report, he said, would aid their own ongoing efforts in Baltimore and help them evaluate where they are going.

Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, also told the Register that the report’s “objectives are on target.”

In March 2016, Bishop Baker’s diocese co-hosted a major ecumenical and interfaith discussion on racial reconciliation with Samford University. Bishop Baker said that conference helped him understand “the divide is deeper than we thought,” but also showed they could begin to bridge the divide by praying together, developing the art of listening, and having discussion, not debate. He praised Bishop Edward K. Braxton of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, who “vocalized major flaws in our culture and in our Catholic response,” as well as Archbishop Anthony Obinna of Owerri, Nigeria, who presented how to reconcile black and white Americans as sons and daughters of the same God, with a theology he called “reconfiliation.”

Bishop Baker explained his own listening sessions between black Catholics and white Catholics showed him how the “white flight” from the city centers harmed racial integration to the point that “we’re really still segregated in many ways by where we live.” Changes in the law, he said, did not mean hearts had changed. He has been encouraging parish partnerships to host events together in order to build relationships that can bridge the divide between black and white.

“My only concern is how slow we are to move on things,” he said.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago told the Register the task force helped convince bishops that the Church “is a respected convener … in the midst of trauma, tragedy, even violence, to sponsor a sense of calm and bring people to their senses again.”

The bishop said the Church has to strengthen its efforts to catechize and raise up the family, while recognizing that it may not get “much cooperation from the larger society.”

However, Bishop Perry, who is the postulator for the cause of Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton, the first black Catholic priest in the U.S., also added that those efforts could have a powerful boost if the Church canonized its first African-American saint from the six men and women already under consideration.

“If we had an African-American saint, it would message to African-Americans that we have finally arrived in the Church, that we finally have something to offer, that holiness is possible from amongst those of our ethnic stripe, that the contribution we have been making to the Church for several hundred years is finally recognized,” he said.

Parishes: A Powerful Force

Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell of Los Angeles, a consultant on the task force, told the Register that the local Church should not be afraid to get involved in these issues. Parishes in particular, he said, can be a “powerful force” to transform people’s lives and heal communities.

“The Church and pastors are trusted in neighborhoods to bring together different constituencies,” he said. Bishop O’Connell, who has worked with gang members and sheriffs in the Los Angeles area to build relationships, said the parish can likewise provide similar opportunities to build bridges. Above all, he said, it was vital to bring people in the community together to pray.

“We did the work of evangelization by bringing people closer to Jesus,” he said, “bringing them together as sons and daughters of God.”

The bishop said Pope Francis has been calling parishioners to get more involved in their neighborhoods and become more present in the lives of their neighbors, many of whom are experiencing brokenness and a lack of love in their own families. This lack of love, he said, can put an 11-year-old down a path of drugs, gangs and “looking for love in the wrong places to heal pain.”

But the local Church, he said, through its parishes and schools, can really transform a community by helping people to become good husbands and fathers and wives and mothers, heal family ties, and teach them to pray — particularly as a family. A Catholic community that is engaged with a pregnant single mother from the beginning of her “wonderful pregnancy” — because the life inside her is precious in the eyes of God — can create a completely different narrative for a child’s life, as well.

People in their communities, Bishop O’Connell said, need the local Church to take up that challenge.

“They need the love of Jesus and the love of Mary.”

Bishop Burbidge’s MLK Day Visit

Photos from Bishop Burbidge’s visit to St. Joseph’s for MLK Day.

2017 MLK Mass and Reception - Jan 15 14

2017 MLK Mass and Reception - Jan 15 12

2017 MLK Mass and Reception - Jan 15 11

2017 MLK Mass and Reception - Jan 15 10

2017 MLK Mass and Reception - Jan 15 9

2017 MLK Mass and Reception - Jan 15 13

2017 MLK Mass and Reception - Jan 15 8

A Christmas Blessing from the Josephites


During Advent, the church helps us prepare for Christmas.

The Mass readings are familiar. The hymns and carols retell the Christmas story.

We hear about Mary and the baby in the manger. We hear about the Shepherds and the Three Kings and even Angels.

What about Joseph? How does he fit into the story of Christmas?

Joseph is an important person. But he is often silent, in the background, taking care of essential things.

When I think about my Josephite brothers serving in parishes, schools and special ministries in the African American community all across the county I see much of St. Joseph in them.

They lead parish communities, lift up new leaders for our church and communities, they teach the faith with words and deeds. They offer inspiration to children and hope to the elderly.

We Josephites are there going about our work quietly, prayerfully and successfully.

At this Christmas, I want to thank my Josephite brothers for the many gifts that they share with our church, our people and our communities. They inspire us to be filled with hope especially when confronted with significant challenges in the African American community.

I also want to express my appreciation to the thousands of donors who support our ministry throughout the year. Your generosity is a blessing to the Josephites. Your contributions provide for essential needs in parish communities.

Your support gives us the resources to care for the elderly and infirm Josephites who have served for many decades.

Also, your contributions help us to prepare future generations of Josephite priests and brothers who will be joining our ranks in the coming years.

This Christmas I take comfort and joy in knowing that so many are sharing their gifts with us as we minister in the African American community.

Please know that you and your special intentions will be remembered in the Josephite Novena of Christmas Masses.

Because of you, we can join the choir of angels in singing Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to all people.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a hopeful New Year.

First US black priest a step closer to sainthood


A priest and former slave who served in Chicago and western Illinois in the late 1800s is a step closer to becoming a saint.


Ordained in 1886, Fr Augustus Tolton was the first Catholic priest in the US publicly known to be black. Born a slave in Missouri, his family eventually reached the free state of Illinois.

When he wished to pursue studies for the priesthood, Fr Tolton was rejected by every American seminary to which he applied and eventually enrolled in Rome’s Pontifical Urban University.

Expecting to be sent to an African mission, he returned to the Chicago area to serve the area’s African-American population. He died in 1897, amid an infamous Chicago heat wave.

WGEM-TV reports his remains were exhumed from St Peter’s Cemetery in Quincy, Chicago, on Saturday. They will be examined for historical verification purposes.

The late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago submitted Fr Tolton as a candidate for sainthood in 2010.

A formal report documenting his life, known as a “postitio,” was submitted to the Vatican in 2014.



Father Charles E. McMahon, Josephite priest, dies at age 87

Josephite Father Charles E. McMahon, 87, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Church in Pascagoula, MS, died from heart complications at a local hospital on Dec. 2. At the age of eighty-seven, he was the Josephites oldest active pastor.

Father McMahon, a native of Detroit, MI, was born on May 11, 1929, the son of William and Margaret Rosener McMahon. He attended Visitation elementary and high school. Following graduation in 1947, he entered the Josephite minor seminary (Epiphany College) in Newburgh, NY.

After his novitiate year, he continued his studies at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington and was ordained in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on June 7, 1958. He returned to his home parish church of the Visitation for his First Solemn Mass.

Father McMahon was back at Epiphany College for his first assignment as teacher of seminarians in Latin and serving as librarian. Two years later, he was sent to St. Joseph Seminary as dean of students, vice-rector, and teacher of psychology. In 1968, he was assigned as rector of Epiphany College and teacher of Latin.

His first venture into pastoral work was as Newman Chaplain at Prairie View University and pastor of St. Martin de Porres church in Prairie View, TX, where he served until sent to Epiphany parish in New Orleans two years later. He remained but a year until assigned to Incarnation parish in Washington, D.C., for a four-year stay until retuning to St. Joseph’s Seminary as rector. When he was assigned pastor of St. Luke’s church in D.C. in 1991, Father had completed 26 years in the formation of Josephite seminarians.

Two years later, Father McMahon was appointed director of novices at Mary Immaculate Novitiate, newly located in Houston, TX. For the next ten years the novitiate moved twice more-from Houston ton to Mobile, AL, and to Baltimore, MD. When there were no novices for the year, Father McMahon assumed parochial duties in nearby parishes.

In 2006, he assumed pastorate of Katrina-damaged St. Peter the Apostle parish in Pascagoula, MS, which had lost its church and school. He oversaw the building of a parish hall to provide space for Masses and teaching and for social events. At the time of his death, plans and fund-raising for building a separate church were well underway.

Funeral services were held at Sacred Heart Church, Pascagoula, on Wednesday, December 7, at 10:30 a.m. Burial was in St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery, nearby the parish church.

May he rest in the peace of the Lord following 58 years of priestly ministry.

Bishops to Concelebrate Mass at Historic Josephite Church

The U.S. bishops will concelebrate Mass at St. Peter Claver Church in Baltimore Nov. 14, the first day of their fall general assembly.

Established in 1888, St. Peter of Claver has the largest African-American Catholic congregation in the city and has a long-standing tradition of civil rights activism.

Named for the patron saint of slaves and ministry to African-Americans, today St. Peter Claver is twinned with St. Pius V. The parish community is in Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, not far from where Freddie Gray Jr. was arrested in April 2015 and suffered fatal injuries while in police custody.

Gray’s death was the flashpoint in rioting that raised awareness of urban dysfunction in the center of the nation’s first archdiocese.

“I am grateful to be able to join my brother bishops on this occasion as we concelebrate Mass at such a significant church in Baltimore’s history,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Together, we offer our solidarity and support to Baltimore’s African-American community as we work in unity toward peaceful solutions in all our communities across the country,” he said in a Nov. 3 statement.

“The decision by the leadership of the bishops’ conference to hold this special Mass at St. Peter Claver Church in West Baltimore underscores the church’s great pastoral concern for the challenges that are present in too many cities in our country and for our sisters and brothers who are affected by them,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori.

St. Peter Claver Church is staffed by priests of the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, better known as the Josephites. The religious community, founded after the Civil War to minister to newly freed slaves, serves in parishes and special ministries, spanning seven states and the District of Columbia.

On the agenda for the bishops’ Nov. 14-16 fall meeting is a discussion of ways for the church to promote peace in U.S. communities torn apart by violence. It will stem from a report to be presented to the bishops from a task force formed this past summer after shootings by police and of police took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Minneapolis; and Dallas.

When Archbishop Kurtz announced creation of the USCCB Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities, he said there needed to be “ways of nurturing an open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence.”

The USCCB also declared Sept. 9 of this year as national Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities. On that day in Baltimore, Archbishop Lori led a prayer walk in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. The event was hosted by St. Peter Claver and included a listening session led by the archbishop.

Following Deacon Willard Witherspoon, who carried the crucifix, more than 100 men and women, some requiring assistance, made three stops west of the church, where Ray Kelly, a parishioner of St. Peter Claver and director of the No Boundaries Coalition, described as many heinous acts of violence.

The first stop was on North Carey Street, where Antonio Addison, 22, was fatally shot in May. The second was outside New Song Worship and Arts Center on North Calhoun Street, where Addison’s funeral unraveled when his brother shot their father. Near the corner of Baker and Leslie, Kelly paused to tell of the July murder of Taymen Brown.

“That’s three murders in three blocks in three months,” Kelly said.

Beside pastors and parishioners from a number of Baltimore churches, participants included Carolyn Woo, CEO of Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services; William J. McCarthy, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Baltimore; and John Schiavone, president and CEO of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore.

Giving readings at the stops were Josephite Father Ray P. Bomberger, pastor of St. Peter Claver; Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden; and Father Augustine Inwang, of the Missionaries of St. Paul and pastor of Transfiguration Catholic Community.

During the listening session, five speakers from as many parishes respectfully asked Archbishop Lori and the Catholic Church to advocate for them on a number of fronts, highlighting education and opportunity, including for ex-offenders, while noting the power of the church.

When the U.S. bishops’ initiative on peaceful communities was announced, Archbishop Lori sought the counsel of Bishop Madden, who has led more than 100 walks for peace since becoming an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore in 2005.

“I asked Bishop Madden, ‘should we have a big pontifical Mass, or a banquet?'” Archbishop Lori said, anticipating the response. “No, he said, ‘Let us do what we always do, walk, pray and remember what has to happen to work for a brighter future.'”

Trudy Scott, 55, a parishioner of the former St. Martin Church and now Transfiguration Catholic Community, where she does everything from lector to schedule hall rentals, is a veteran of many of those walks.

“We need peace in the streets, and the church’s presence may be the turning point,” Scott said during the Sept. 9 event. “We may get tired, but we can’t give up,” she told the Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan news website and magazine.

The National Black Catholic Congress Releases Its New Website During Black Catholic History Month

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, following months of anticipation, the National Black Catholic Congress (“NBCC”) was able to launch its newly redesigned website, which features an updated and subsequently more modern layout, including a more visually appealing platform. In an e-mail sent to NBCC affiliates detailing the release of the website, NBCC Executive Director Valerie E.

Washington indicated that “Our goal with this new website is to provide our visitors an easier way to learn about the history of black Catholics in the United States and also to allow the visitor to find current information and resources impacting black Catholics. The new website is interactive, gives better access to About Us, Resources, Black Catholics, and features a prayer wall and an e-store with NBCC and Congress XII items for purchase. Our current and prospective constituents will find useful information about our organization on the homepage of our website, and there are separate pages for youths and young adult black Catholics.”

There are different sections within the website regarding charitable endeavors throughout the Church as they pertain to black Catholics. These include Care for the Elderly, Education, Family, Health, Human Dignity / Human Life, Social Justice, Spirituality, and Vocations.

There is also a Calendar of Upcoming Events, which includes information about occasions to participate in various initiatives within the Church, particularly in the United States. The faithful of all different backgrounds – of course, not just black – are encouraged to visit the NBCC’s website in order to learn more about the contributions of black Catholics, both during Black Catholic History Month and beyond.

View the new website here >>

Timely Ministry Resources for Black Catholics

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers a webpage featuring Timely Ministry Resources for Black Catholics. The evangelization of the African continent extends back to the Apostolic Age, when in the epoch following Jesus’ Ascension and then Pentecost thereafter, Saint Philip the Apostle spread the Catholic faith as far away from Jerusalem as Ethiopia (see Acts 8:26-40).

Timely Ministry Resources for Black Catholics>>