Upcoming Catholic Youth of African Descent event to highlight African-American saints, efforts

February 9, 2021

Below, Father Augustine Tolton, also known as Augustus, is pictured in an undated photo. The special assistant to the postulator of the cause of Ven. Tolton, Father Canon A. Gerard Jordan, O. Praem, will be a speaker at the 2021 Celebration of Catholic Youth of African Descent event on Feb. 27. Event leaders say the virtual gathering will highlight the stories of African-American Catholics who are in the process of becoming saints. Born into slavery in Missouri, Ven. Tolton was ordained a priest April 24, 1886, in Rome, and said his first Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Father Tolton, a candidate for sainthood, was declared “venerable” by Pope Francis for his “virtuous and heroic life.” (CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Chicago Archives and Records Center)

HOUSTON — On Feb. 27, at 9:30 a.m. Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church will host a virtual Celebration With Catholic Youth of African Descent.

Sponsored by the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization, the free event is for all youth of any culture, middle and high school within the local Church to witness and experience the faith, gifts and cultural beauty of their fellow disciples of Jesus Christ. This year’s theme, “Do you know the way? Using Jesus as our GPS System,” was inspired by John 14:1-6, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Normally an in-person celebration, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to its virtual format.

Marie Ledet, the host of the event and the RCIA/RCIC instructor, Safe Environment coordinator and CCE teacher at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, said the event was created in 2015 to celebrate the faith, gifts and beauty of youth of African Descent in the Archdiocese.

“Within the apostolate for Catholics of African Descent they will not find a monolith, but rather a diversity of cultures within a culture all of which are authentically and faithfully Catholic,” she said. “Growth in their faith lives, an understanding of how the lives of a number of African-Americans who are in the process of becoming saints can be models for them as they seek to understand Christ as the way, the truth, and the life in their own personal lives. Of course they will also have fun and build new relationships in Christ!”

In addition to Ledet, the Core Team for the youth day is Stacy Allen and Doris Barrow from St. Monica Catholic Church, Unella Baber and Demetra Lewis of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Valerie Harrison and Daphine Sands of St. Mary of the Purification Catholic Church, Paul Ledet of Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church, Evelyn Wagner Wright of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, and Timothy E. Colbert, director of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization. The group has been together since 2015 coordinating the event.

Speakers at the event include Brian Greenfield; Sister Odessa Stanford, SFCC, of the Sisters For Christian Community; Sister Nicole Trahan, FMI, vocations director for the Daughters of Mary Immaculate; Father R. Tony Ricard, pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish and campus minister at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, Louisiana; and Father Canon A. Gerard Jordan, O. Praem, who serves as the special assistant to the postulator for the Father Augustus Tolton cause for sainthood.

Father Stephen Sohe, SSJ, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish and vocations director for the Josephites, will do the opening prayer. Father Reginald Samuels, pastor of St. Hyacinth Parish and vicar for Catholics of African Descent, will welcome attendees.

When asked what are the needs of the youth of African descent, especially after the events of 2020, Father Samuels said, “The youth of African descent have to understand that God has created them with humanity and dignity and that it cannot be determined by the circumstances that surrounds them. We are in a world that wants to take away the humanity and dignity that we possess. However, if God is for us, then who can stand against us.”

Special guests, the Mime Dancers for Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, will be performing at 9:45 a.m.
To register for the event, visit http://bit.ly/CYAD2021. †