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Black Catholic Theological Symposium set for Oct. 6-9 in San Diego

The academic society dedicated to Black Catholic studies will meet for its 32nd annual meeting next month in San Diego, including two events open to the public.

(Black Catholic Theological Symposium)

The 32nd annual Black Catholic Theological Symposium will gather scholars from October 6-9 at the University of San Diego and will feature a number of public events, as seen in the event’s return last year from a pandemic break.

The annual symposium gathers scholars from across North America and Africa to present papers, fellowship, and promote theological education.

“We listen to our emerging scholars and discuss themes such as authentically Black, radically Black, truly Catholic and authentically Catholic,” the organization said in this year’s call for papers.

As in previous years, the event’s private sessions will include presentations from among the organization’s more than two dozen members, followed by “scholarly discussion of Black thought, Black religious experience or Black cultural experience.”

The newly elected BCTS board organizing the symposium includes convener Dr. Kimberly Lymore of Catholic Theological Union; Drs. timone davis and Nathaniel “Nat” Samuel of Loyola University Chicago as associate convener and secretary, respectively; treasurer Dr. Kim Harris of Loyola Marymount University; and archivist Dr. Katrina Sanders of the University of Iowa. Fr Maurice Nutt, CSsR serves as immediate past convener.

This year’s public BCTS events will include a public Gospel Mass on campus at The Immaculata Catholic Church on Saturday, October 8 at 4:30pm PT, sponsored by the school’s Mission Integration office.

The liturgy will feature the gospel choir from Christ the King Catholic Church, one of San Diego's two Black parishes, and will be followed by a dinner at the USD Ministry Center.

Following last year’s highlighting of a number of young scholars among the BCTS ranks, the opening session of the conference will feature three of the organization’s newest members in a panel discussion entitled “Young, Black and Catholic.”

The public roundtable will take place on Thursday, October 6 at 7pm at the shool’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (KIPJ) Theatre, followed by a reception. San Diego auxiliary bishop Ramon Bejarano is expected to be in attendance.

The panelists, who recently helped co-lead a young adults webinar series with the National Black Catholic Congress, include doctoral students LaRyssa Herrington of the University of Notre Dame, John Barnes II of Fordham University, and Chanelle Robinson of Boston College.

Dr. Craig Ford Jr. of St. Norbert College will moderate the discussion, which is being sponsored by a coalition of USD offices including that of the president, Dr. James T. Harris III, the Franciscan School of Theology, and the Portman Endowment in Catholic Theology.

The symposium—which initially ran for two years after its founding in 1978 by Fr Thaddeus Posey, OFM with the help of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus—has met annually (with two exceptions) since being revived in 1991 by Sr Jamie T. Phelps, OP.

It has included among its members such luminaries as past convener Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, the late Fr Cyprian Davis, OSB, and Servant of God Thea Bowman.

This year will mark the first BCTS meeting in San Diego since 1996.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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