Outreach to Catholics of African Descent sees digital growth

February 22, 2022

HOUSTON — To compassionately and responsively listen to the voices of African and African American Catholics living in the Houston area, one of the over 60 ministries supported by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) focuses on providing new and creative ways to support their needs and interests post-pandemic.

According to Father Reginald Samuels, vicar of the Ministry to Catholics of African Descent of the Archdiocese, the ministry is working tirelessly to develop new and innovative ways to incorporate digital learning into outreach and uplifting this community of 8,500 families of African, African American and Caribbean Catholic descent. This includes 16 parishes that predominantly serve those of African descent in the Archdiocese.

“Pope Francis himself encourages Catholics ‘to embrace digital media platforms to start a dialogue of faith and promote a culture of respect,’” said Father Samuels. “The pandemic has changed everything around ministry, yet it also has opened up a lot of doors for our ministry, including an expanded use of technology in a positive way that can really impact people in their faith.”

The increased use of electronic media, such as Zoom, online seminars and a new podcast, “In His Light Podcast with Father Reginald Samuels,” created in 2021 during the heart of the pandemic, now provide broader access to those living in the Archdiocese. This includes those who live in the Archdiocese but work in other areas of the country and want to stay connected to their local Church.

Father Samuels believes these efforts, among other important ministry initiatives made possible through funding from the DSF, help to meet the specific needs and issues facing Catholics of African descent in the Archdiocese that were underserved pre-pandemic.

Father Samuels said to continue the good work for this community, he has a list of new programs that he would like to implement. This includes training for pastoral ministers, parish staff, priests, deacons and lay ministers, as well as new outreach and educational initiatives for youth, young adults and adults.

“Considering the issues that Catholics of African Descent in the United States have faced, I also would like to offer racial, ethnic, cultural sensitivity and awareness seminars, and workshops to deepen our understanding of the cultures that are part of the Church, especially addressing the cultural diversity in our Archdiocese,” Father Samuels said.

With increased DSF support, Father Samuels said the seminars and workshops would cover a variety of topics to advance the awareness of African and African American culture, community needs, promotion of vocations and service awareness in the parish and church organizations.

“These seminars and educational workshops would deliver research and resource materials on or about Catholics of African Descent to help spread the awareness on how we build thriving Christian communities,” said Father Samuels. “This would afford us the opportunity to build leadership teams and members who would work in parish and Archdiocesan programs to evangelize and encourage full participation by African and African American Catholics in parish life.”

Father Samuels encourages the faithful in the Archdiocese to support the 2022 DSF campaign, which gives 100% of every dollar donated directly to the 60-plus ministries receiving aid.

“Current DSF support allows our ministries to reach the Catholic faithful in new and exciting ways through [digital] media, especially to the African and African American Catholic youth who are more programmed into this media,” said Father Samuels. “I ask that you prayerfully consider a gift to DSF because your gift directly assists the Catholic faithful in reaching out to vast and diverse communities in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and beyond.”

Doris M. Barrow III, campus minister at the Newman Center at Texas State University and a volunteer with the Ministry to Catholics of African Descent, one of the nation’s largest historically black universities, agrees that supporting the DSF is mission critical for the faithful in the Archdiocese, especially its youth and young adults.

Quoting Matthew 28:19, Barrows said, “When we contribute to the DSF, we are responding to the call of Jesus in the Great Commission to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them all He has commanded,” said Barrow. “I truly believe with all my heart that we are all called to contribute in some way to the DSF, and I ask my brothers and sisters to contribute as much as the heart can bear.”

Volunteer and former employee of the Ministry to Catholics of African Descent, Paul H. Ledet Jr., said DSF truly makes a difference by making a tremendous impact on those it serves.

“I have seen this ministry play a major role in the life of this Archdiocese over the years,” Ledet said. “Our leadership has been very supportive in our endeavors, both in our parishes and the larger community.”
To learn more about the ministry to Catholics of African Descent and the other 60-plus DSF-supported ministries, go to www.archgh.org/dsf. †