Brooklyn Diocese Catholics Stand in Solidarity at St. Peter Claver Feast Day Mass for Racial Justice

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Father Alonzo Cox gave an impassioned homily at the Mass for racial justice and solidarity Sept. 9 at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

“We are dying and our cries are going unheard, until today,” he said.

Fr. Cox, who serves as the Director of Ministry to African American Catholics in the Brooklyn Diocese, spoke of the Church’s plan to overcome “America’s original sin’: racism.”There’s so much more that unites us than divides us, and we pray today for all of us to come together as one body, one spirit, one Church,” he said.

The Mass was held on the feast day of St. Peter Claver. He was known as “the slave of the slaves” for his ministry to Africans during the slave trade in Colombia. He baptized more than 300,000 people, and is remembered for his vision of unity.

“He was known for his humility, his simplicity, his spirit of sharing and his devotion and really his sorrow regarding the faith made true for slaves,” said Bishop Guy Sansaricq.

Auxiliary Bishop Neil Tiedemann celebrated the Mass, and says every Catholic can take the first step in bridging the racial divide by looking inward. ‘where have I been racist in my attitude and in my thoughts and in the way I judge others,” he said, “so at this time, I think that is important.’

Those who attended the Mass say they’re turning to God and the Church for guidance on how to navigate the racial unrest of our day.

“I think it’s important to hear what the Church has to say about racism, and what the Church plans to do about it, and it’s important to support the Church going forward,” said Andrea Espinoza, who attended the Mass with her fiancé.

“This year has brought so much turmoil and chaos and pain, and I continue to lean on my faith and on the Church and I’m hoping to see more of what the Church can do for myself and for my fellow brothers and sisters,” said Marsha Prosper, who also attended the Mass.

Fr. Cox urged the only way out of the darkness of racism is to turn to Jesus, the light of the world.