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Info webinar on 2023 National Black Catholic Congress scheduled for July 31st

The nation's premier Black Catholic gathering is taking shape, and a webinar this weekend will help prepare participants for the upcoming event.

The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, where the 2023 National Black Catholic Congress will be held. (Gaylord Hotels)

A webinar on Sunday will cover the upcoming National Black Catholic Congress gathering, scheduled for July 20-23rd, 2023 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center near Washington, DC.

Fr Stephen Thorne of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a consultant and special projects administrator for the NBCC organization, will guide participants on Sunday, July 31st through the background of the event as well as this year’s theme, “Write the Vision: A Prophetic Call to Thrive.”

“Because I have some knowledge, I want to share it. If you see trash on the ground, you pick it up. When you see somebody in need, you stop to help, like the Good Samaritan,” he told Catholic Philly earlier this month.

“I plan to take some questions, asking participants, ‘If you were able to set the agenda, what would you want the congress to address?’”

Thorne chairs the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Commission on Racial Healing, and has attended every National Black Catholic Congress since its founding in 1987, led by a consortium of Black Catholic national organizations.

The NBCC operates in the spirit of the postbellum Colored Catholic Congress movement, founded by famed journalist Daniel Rudd, who also started the nation’s first Black Catholic newspaper. His Congresses ceased after holding five gatherings at the turn of the 20th century, and the revived movement now hosts national events every five years.

Like Rudd’s gatherings, the NBCC seeks to gather the nation’s African-American Catholics to celebrate Black heritage, foster more robust faith formation, and address concerns facing the Church in the Black community. In that aim, each Congress formulates a Pastoral Plan of Action meant to guide Black Catholic ministry for the following five years. The most recent plan was released in 2017.

In consultation with the nation’s Black Catholic bishops, the 2022 NBCC gathering was delayed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is expected to draw thousands to the Washington metro area next summer.

Early-bird registration is expected to open next month at $395 per person and hotel accommodations at the Gaylord, to be purchased separately, start at $268.62 per night (including taxes and fees).

The extra year of planning time for the NBCC has brought a number of new initiatives from the 35-year-old organization, including a webinar series from Black Catholic young adult theologians. The months-long offering accompanied a national call from the NBCC seeking collaborators from the emerging generation, an effort led by LaRyssa Herrington of the University of Notre Dame.

The event schedule for the 2023 Congress is still being finalized, and Days of Reflection will soon be hosted by Black Catholic and multicultural ministry offices in dioceses around the country to collect information that will help guide the itinerary.

One event, a 25th anniversary pilgrimage to the Our Mother of African Chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, was originally scheduled to take place during the Congress’ original dates but has since been rescheduled for September 17th of this year.

Information on the upcoming Congress is forthcoming, and the organization recently announced on its website that the musical liturgist for the event will be Lynne Gray of St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Washington, DC.

Those interested in attending Fr Thorne’s informational session on the 2023 Congress can do so via Zoom here, and no registration is required. The event will begin on Sunday at 6:30pm ET.

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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