Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Office of the Black Catholic Ministry

Black and Catholic: An Honor and A Privilege

Father Ivan Cormac Marsh, O. Carm.

In the United States today there are many Blacks (Africans, Americans, Haitians, and others) who acknowledge membership in the Roman Catholic Church. As long as I can remember, there have been Blacks who have been Catholic, though they were not in the numbers that they are today. They come from every walk of life, and can be found in almost every State of the Union. Many are located in the Diocese of Tucson. Some have been Catholic from birth: (I am one of them), and some have made their conversion to the Roman Catholic faith after the closing of Vatican Two, which opened up the Church to all peoples more than it had ever been before. 

These Black Catholics have come and have remained. And they are legion. Black Catholics can be found in numbers in every major arch\diocese in this country.  There are approximately some 300 American born black Catholic priests, some 600 from Africa, approximately 300 American born black Catholic nuns, some 600 African born Catholic nuns, many black ordained permanent\married deacons, and a large number of black seminarians.  We have to date sixteen black Catholic bishops, one who is an Archbishop. Some of these bishops administer a diocese in the United States and others in the territories affiliated with the USA.  Black Catholics are here in the USA, and they are here to stay. They are committed to their Roman Catholic faith.

Black Catholic Laity, who make up the major membership of black Catholics (over two million), are more involved in Church leadership today.  These men and women are highly organized in their parishes, and take part in the programs and developments of their local churches to which they belong.  Some are more involved on diocesan levels, serving on boards, running diocesan offices for Black Catholics, even serving on national committees which deal with Church policies as they relate to Black Catholics.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson now has set in motion an Office of Black Catholic Ministry, whose Chief Executive Officers are: Dr. Willie Jordan-Curtis, The Honorable Ronald A. Wilson, Mrs. Dorothy Parker, Sister Luisa Derouen, O.P., and Father Ivan Cormac Marsh, O. Carm.) The Office Of Black Catholic Ministry was established officially under the auspices of Bishop Gerald Kicanas, DD, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson. It is an official body of this Church, and acts in the name of the Bishop.

Being Black and Catholic is not a contradiction in terms; rather, it is an honor and a privilege to live, work and minister along their sisters and brothers of many cultures in the fold, who make up the beautiful tapestry that is the Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson

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