Saturday, July 20, 2024

Annual Picnic Shares Faith, Culture through Black Catholic Apostolate

An annual summer picnic on Harrisburg’s City Island is a tradition of the Diocese’s Black Catholic Apostolate, and this year’s event of food, music and dancing attracted faithful attendees as well as newcomers to the celebration alongside the Susquehanna riverfront.

The August 20 picnic renewed friendships and welcomed passersby as they stopped to peruse a display of musical instruments, liturgical items and saints that are an integral part of African-American faith and culture.

“The picnic is a significant event in our calendar of activities. That is a great time for all African descent and pure Africans to celebrate the diverse cultures in the Catholic Church,” said Angelé Mbassi, coordinator of the apostolate.

“The purpose of the Apostolate is to foster the rich diversity of the Black Catholic community within the Diocese of Harrisburg. Its mission is to evangelize, enhance and celebrate the contribution of persons of African descent and the gift they have to offer the Church and society,” Mbassi explained. “We seek to be a representative body composed of laity and clergy dedicated to fostering the spiritual, educational and cultural lives of persons of African descent in the Diocese, reaching out to Catholic ministries to cooperate with the bishop to carry out its evangelization mission.”

The Apostolate is currently planning a concert to take place before the end of the year, as well as the annual Black History Mass in February.

Deacon Armando Torres, Diocesan Director of Culture, Identity and Outreach, joined in the festivities, as the Apostolate is a program of his office.

“The family atmosphere, which entailed plenty of food, music, playing of musical instruments and dancing, led to a joyous day by the river,” he said, and “gave the opportunity for many people to experience the celebration as they walked past the paved River Trail. We had several people stop by and enjoy the display table set-up by Angelé with the Black Catholic Ministry board, picture frames of past advocates of the Black Catholic faithful as well as musical instruments and African style clothing of beautiful design. Not only did the people enjoy the display, but food was also shared with several of them as they were drawn in by the music and dancing.”

“Our Catholic faith is truly universal, with no exception to cultures,” Deacon Torres said. “Does that mean we ourselves become every culture? No. However, accompanying all our brothers and sisters in cultural celebrations enlightens us to the beauty of our universal faith. Our Diocese is blessed with a variety of cultures from all parts of the world and wants to continue bringing this awareness of our universality to all through Mass celebrations and festivities.”

Click here for more information about the Black Catholic Apostolate and its programs and events.

(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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