Catholics gather in Houston for biennial Unity Explosion

July 15, 2014

SUGAR LAND — They traveled near and far: by air, automobile and convoy; young and not so young; male and female; single and married. They gathered to “Rejoice Together ... Encouraged Forever!” 

Nearly 400 Catholics of African descent from 12 archdioceses and dioceses from San Diego, Calif., to Richmond, Va., recently assembled for Unity Explosion at Sugar Land Marriott Town Square. The biennial conference is a five-day, spirit-filled experience that addressed the evangelical,liturgical, ministerial and pastoral needs of the Black Catholic apostolate. 

The gathering, themed “Rejoice Together... Encouraged Forever,” began June 11 with The Bell Institute. The Bell Institute is a 15-hour music workshop designed to provide professional, spiritual and networking opportunities for musicians, ministers of music and those interested in the music ministry. The institute also provides a venue for composers to present various genres of new sacred music. 

The conference began on the evening of June 12 with the celebration of the Eucharist with conference pastor, Father Manuel L. Williams of Montgomery, Ala., as celebrant. 

The following three days attendees found themselves engulfed in prayer, reflection, presentations, fellowship and leisurely shopping provided by the numerous vendors on site. 

The conference provided specialized workshops for Little Angels (ages 3 through 5), youth and young adults attendees. Workshops and social activities were exclusively designed for the young adults to provide young Christians the opportunity to network and share their knowledge, life experiences, successes and challenges. 

Joyce Ann Daniel of Holy Family Church in Galveston, reflecting on the conference, said, “What an interesting, informative, but most importantly a most spiritual event. This was Michael’s and my first time to be in attendance. We desired to be there on Saturday, our wedding anniversary.”

Theresa Agwuncha from Holy Cross Catholic Church in the Diocese of Austin said, “The reason I am at Unity Explosion is because I was informed that it is very similar to Diocese of Austin diocesan youth conference in the aspects of spiritual uplifting, especially in the light with which we of African American descent can better identify. Through this conference I hope to encounter a moment with God, get a better understanding of God and start developing a new outlook on life.” 

Each morning and afternoon session began with a general assembly and keynote address. Powerful keynote addresses filled the conference ballroom by Fathers Kenneth Hamilton, S.V.D, Maurice Nutt, C.Ss.R, and Warren Harvey along with Therese Wilson Favors. All their discourses reflected on the rich and glorious history, tradition and culture of the Black Catholic from the Middle Passage to the present day. 

The conference reached its climactic fulfillment with the celebration of Eucharist on The Solemnity of Most Trinity. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo was the main celebrant of the Mass along with Bishop Curtis Guillory of the Diocese of Beaumont and Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel, Auxiliary Bishop of Dallas. 

In his homily, Bishop Guillory challenged and encouraged all the attendees to return to their respective dioceses and parishes re-energized to spread the Good News. Cardinal DiNardo concluded the Mass with a commissioning prayer and a Father’s Day blessing.