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Institute for Black Catholic Studies set for June 25-July 14, 2023 in New Orleans

The nation's Black Catholic graduate theology program has set final dates for its next session, to be held summer 2023 in New Orleans at the nation's Catholic HBCU.

Faculty, staff, and students from the 2022 session of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies. (Xavier University of Louisiana)

The Institute for Black Catholic Studies has announced the dates for its next summer session, marking its second year in person following multiple online iterations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IBCS will convene in its 44th year from June 25 to July 14 in New Orleans at Xavier University of Louisiana, where the institution has been housed since its founding in 1980.

“The Institute for Black Catholic Studies, an interdisciplinary and holistic pastoral theology program, forms lay women and men, religious, seminarians and clergy for culturally competent, effective ministry in the 21st century,” the organization said in a press release on October 4.

“Faculty, staff and students are immersed each summer in Black Catholic community devoted to [the] academic, spiritual and [the] social.”

As in previous years, the 2023 IBCS session will offer two tracks to participants, including Master of Theology (ThM) coursework and continuing education programs. The former constitutes “the only graduate theology curriculum in the nation dedicated to Black Catholic perspectives,” according to XULA.

“Its courses focus on Black approaches, critiques and contributions to systematic and pastoral theologies.”

This year’s offerings include courses on Black theology, Black psychology, and Black Catholicism, as well as on Black perspectives of Christology. The two elective classes will be Spirituality of Black literature and Issues in the Black Family.

The 2023 faculty includes Drs. Simon Aihiokhai of the University of Portland, Brian L. Turner of XULA; Ernest L. Gibson III of Auburn University, Cecilia Moore of Dayton University, and Junior Hopwood of Grambling University.

The Master's program consists of a one- or two-class courseload and is open to students of all religious backgrounds. The IBCS also notes that the program is open to those pursuing or working in “ordained, religious or lay” ministry, as well as those pursuing “ongoing religious study.”

Both the graduate studies and continuing education programs also involve community activities during the three-week session in New Orleans, including daily liturgies and theological reflection meetings once a week. Other special events include an ancestor commemoration and Maafa (“Black Holocaust”) ceremony during the first weekend.

Along with all of the official IBCS liturgies, the institute’s closing Mass and commencement at 6:30pm CT on July 14th will be open to the public and take place in XULA’s St. Katharine Drexel Chapel.

According to IBCS director Dr. Kathleen Dorsey Bellow, applications for the 2023 session of IBCS are expected to open in November, with registration to follow in March of next year.

Financial assistance will also be available, recently buoyed by the Sister Jamie Phelps, OP, Endowed Scholarship—named for the IBCS co-founder and former director, and funded with a $500,000 donation from her order, the Adrian Dominicans.

Those interested in more information on the Institute can email or call (504) 520-7691.

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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