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Fr Andrew McNair to head Phoenix diocese Black ministry, evangelism outreach

A Black priest in Phoenix has been named to head the diocesan Black ministry office, his third such assignment in his third diocese.

Fr Andrew McNair, parochial vicar of Phoenix's Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, has been installed as chaplain for the Office of Black Catholic Ministry in the diocese.

He succeeds Dr. Robert L. Watson, who was appointed to the role in 2017.

The ceremony for McNair was held at the cathedral today in a special diocesan Unity Mass—an monthly inculturated liturgy for the local Black Catholic community usually celebrated at St. Pius X Church (the local parish with a notable African-American presence).

(The "Unity Mass" name presumably comes from the Black Unity Mass tradition out of late 20th-century Chicago, which helped kickstart the Gospel Mass tradition nationwide during the larger Black Catholic Movement.)

Concelebrating at today's Mass was Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix Eduardo Nevares.

Additionally, Jeff Grant of The Catholic Sun reports that, during the service, a new African-American evangelization initiative was announced, to be headed by McNair as part of his new duties.

McNair, a diocesan priest, is a childhood convert from the AME Zion Church and was ordained in 1997. He previously served as a priest in Rhode Island for 14 years, where he became the Diocese of Providence's first Black ministry director in 2008.

He then transferred to St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Southern Pines, North Carolina (of the Raleigh diocese), to be closer to his parents. He became director of Black ministry for that diocese in July 2015.

Now on his third Black ministry director assignment, McNair received during today's Mass an award from the Western States District of the Knights of Peter Claver & Ladies Auxiliary, who honored him for his work on behalf of Black Catholics across the country.

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