Archdiocese celebrates Mass, legacy of MLK

February 11, 2014

HOUSTON — “Precious Lord, take my hand” was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite song, Father Reginald Samuels said in his homily at the Mass of Remembrance for King at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Jan. 19.

“‘Precious Lord, take my hand’ is the perfect song to reflect that it was God’s grace that has brought us all through the good times and the bad times of our past,” said Father Samuels, pastor of St. Hyacinth in Deer Park. “And celebrations like the one we are having today acknowledge that great people, strong people, gifted people throughout history were always uncomfortable with the times and circumstances that they were in, yet those great people and those faithful followers of God all acknowledge that it was God that was with them.”

More than 800 people joined in the Mass, including President John Rudley and a group of students from Texas Southern University. The Mass was concelebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Auxiliary Bishop George Sheltz, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza and Father Samuels, assisted by deacons Leonard Lockett, David Johnson and Martin Lemond. 

The Catholic African American Mass Choir provided the music for the Mass and, highlighting the growing and diverse African communities in the Archdiocese, the First and Second Readings were proclaimed in French and Swahili.

“We are blessed in this Archdiocese to be celebrating our 29th observance of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and I truly believe that, in itself, speaks volumes of our Archdiocese’s rich diversity and acceptance,” Deacon Lockett, Archdiocesan Vicar for Catholics of African Descent, said prior to the Mass. “The Memorial Mass for Dr. King has become a glorious summit of great joy, prayer and fellowship for all the faithful of our Archdiocese, not just for those of African descent.”

One question King posed to the establishment, continued Father Samuels in his homily, was “Who is their God?” 

“And by [King’s] entire life and work,” said Father Samuels, “he testified to who his God is by saying:
“I don’t know who your God is... but my God is the one that gives me the strength to stand up to injustice.
“I don’t know who your God is... but my God is the one who gives me grace to sacrifice and suffer for what I believe in.
“I don’t know who your God is... but my God is the one who gives me the strength to love my enemies when my enemies show me no love.”

Referring to the day’s Gospel reading from John recounting John the Baptist’s response when he saw Jesus approaching him, Father Samuels said that “St. John’s testimony says that we can’t be disciples of Jesus from a distance, we are called to inspire others through our own personal relationship with the Lord. 

“St. John’s testimony is our testimony. The testimony of love, peace, justice, tolerance and mercy. Dr. King’s testimony is our testimony as well.”