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Black Catholic young adults to host webinar as follow-up to national gathering

The panel will include organizers of a YA convening at Xavier University of Louisiana in the fall, which produced a report outlining key needs.

(U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops/X)

Representatives from a national coalition of Black Catholic young adults will host a webinar this month outlining strategies gleaned from a gathering in the fall at Xavier University of Louisiana.

The group, representing young professionals and students between the ages of 18 and 40, will share “Successful Strategies to Engage Black Catholic Young Adults” on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

“This discussion is not an attack, but a reality check,” reads an event description.

“The hope is that institutions and organizations take a hard look at themselves and use the suggestions/plans to create effective change to address realities.”

Panelists for the webinar will include James Conway and Rudy Dehaney of Baltimore, Ali Mumbach of Washington, and Christian Bentley of Alexandria, Virginia. All four are involved in parish ministry and helped plan the national gathering in the fall.

Topics to be discussed include those covered during the deliberations in New Orleans, such as Black Catholic identity, intergenerational challenges that often drive young people away from the Church, and changes the hierarchy can institute to make their communities safe and welcoming.

A plan of action created by the larger group in New Orleans, which included roughly a dozen young adults, was published in December. It focuses on the primary issues facing the U.S. Church, the Black Catholic community specifically, and ideal qualities for candidates who can implement the recommendations.

“Too often, we talk about issues in the Catholic Church without actually proposing realistic solutions,” said University of Pennsylvania senior Sheila Hodges at the gathering in November.  

“Especially when it comes to issues within the Black Catholic community, often the solutions that are proposed are proposed by people who aren't even a part of the community.”

The hope is that the plan of action and the webinar will help spark a movement of change within that will stem the tide of disaffiliation among young Black Catholics—more than half of whom will not continue practicing the faith in adulthood, according to recent data.

Facilitating the webinar will be Dr. Ansel Augustine, the director of the Office of Black Catholics for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He has been an outspoken advocate for youth and young adults throughout his ministerial career, including with his recent book, “Leveling the Praying Field: Can the Church We Love, Love Us Back?”

Augustine was a principal organizer of the fall convening, and the archdiocese joins a number of Catholic organizations from New Orleans sponsoring this month’s virtual event. These include the Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary, the Loyola Institute for Ministry, and the Saint Peter Claver Foundation.

Online registration is open to the public for the event, which will begin at 6:30pm CT.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.

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