Personal Parish to Serve the Black Catholic Community Designated in Diocese of Pittsburgh

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By Emily Drooby

A personal parish for black Catholics.

Of the idea, Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh said, “Black Catholics have particular prayer needs, spiritual needs.”

It’s a church anyone, no matter where they live, can join. A trailblazing idea out of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

It was born from a listening session held earlier in the year. The Diocese says the change is especially meaningful now, as hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets with demands to stamp out the sin of racism, social unrest from coast to coast in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and others.

Bishop Zubik said, “It’s a critical time, I hope that this is a time that we all get it. That we really do have to root out racism which is a sin. And I’m not sure that we have come in a past to a point of being able to emphasis with our Black sisters and brothers.”

For the parish, the Diocese choose St. Benedict the Moor Church, for 130 years the church has had a rich history of ministering to Black Catholics.

“If you’ve ever had a chance to go to St. Benedicts to celebrate the Mass, it’s full of life and sometimes Masses can go on for quite some time. But it’s expressive of the Black culture,” said Bishop Zubik.

It also sits next to Freedom Corner, a civil rights landmark.

Bishop Zubik said, “It stands on the hill that overlooks the city that has to be a constant reminder to us of how important black Catholics are for us as a church.”

The church is named for Benedict the Moor, a 16th century saint born to African slave parents. He became a Franciscan Friar.

Bishop David Zubik will celebrate Mass at the church on July 12th and it will officially become the personal parish for Black Catholics the next day.