Northwest Philadelphia parishes prepare for National Black Catholic Congress

WEST OAK LANE >> Deacon William Bradley, of Mt. Airy, the director of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Office for Black Catholics, recently led a group from Catholic parishes from around the city to prepare for the National Black Catholic Congress XII.

The session — “A Day of Reflection & Preparation” — took place at the St. Athanasius School Hall, 7105 Limekiln Pike in West Oak Lane, Saturday, March 11.

Also presenting at the meeting was the Rev. Stephen D. Thorne, pastor of the St. Martin de Porres Church in North Philadelphia, the Neumann University chaplain and former director of the Office for Black Catholics. Thorne previously served as pastor of the old St. Therese of the Child Jesus Church in Mt. Airy.

“We should be grateful that we have a St. Martin de Porres Foundation in Philadelphia,” said Bradley, who serves as deacon at the St. Raymond of Penafort parish in Mt. Airy. “We are the only archdiocese that has this type of foundation that will sponsor many to attend this event. They will cover the $350 conference cost. You will have to take care of the airfare and hotel for the conference this July in Orlando.”

The Rev. Sylvester Peterka, pastor of St. Vincent’s Church in Germantown, asked questions about the rooming arrangements.

“Can parish members who attend split the cost by having more in a room?” she asked.

Bradley said single, double, triple and quadruple rooms are available.

Thorne explained what will be new about this year’s Congress XII will be that the parish representatives are being encouraged to create the platform, rather than the bishops and NBCC officials sharing the platform. To this end, there will be a delegate representing each diocese or archdiocese in the country.

In the coming weeks, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who will be attending the NBCC, will be making the selection, according to Thorne.

“The delegate will be a working position,” Thorne said. “This means this person will have to be present at all the sessions. It involves a lot of reading, reflecting, attending sessions and then bringing back the information to the parishes.”

Thorne added the person must be vocal enough to share ideas even amid cardinals and bishops from around the country and world. All expenses will be paid for delegates.

Bradley addressed many questions about how the local delegate would be selected. He said Auxiliary Bishop Joseph McIntyre likely would join with him in making recommendations to the archbishop. Bradley urged anyone who was interested in becoming a delegate to get in touch with him by email.

This year’s Philadelphia Pastoral Plan Priorities were developed at the first NBCC preparation session at the St. Cyprian Church in West Philadelphia last November, according to Bradley. They include addressing race and prejudice, the economy, living the gospel and evangelization and outreach. They also stressed the need to address the needs of youth and young adults, the overall NBCC vision, loving one’s neighbor and prayer.

The meeting concluded with the registration information for the Congress XII to be held in Orlando, Fla. Those in attendance were encouraged to pray for the success of the national event and to ask their fellow parishioners what they felt should be the priorities.

The next meeting will be held at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, 222 N. 17th St., Saturday, May 13.

By Arlene Edmonds For Digital First Media (courtesy of “The Leader”)

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