By Deborah Bailey,
Special at AFRO
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pace of the world shifted from frenetic to calm, allowing a small group of young black Catholics to see even more clearly what had been evident for years.
Their voice was too often muted, adjusted, omitted even for the good of others inside and outside the church. From this omission and less than complete representation came the need for a new platform for the transmission of Black Catholic life.
the black catholic messenger is an online platform that started in the fall of 2020. In its mission statement, the publication’s founders affirm the need for Black Catholic stories to be told by Black Catholics.
“Notable black Christians reporting on black Catholic issues are either a. non-Catholic, or b. Catholic, but writing for outlets that target white audiences with content tailored to their concerns and interests,” the post’s web description reads.
The online publication includes news and perspective articles written from the perspective of the Black Catholic community, events and issues critical to the Catholic Church, cultural issues relevant to the national and international Black community, arts and entertainment and books, editorials, a calendar of holy days, celebrations and important dates for black Catholics.
The platform is updated daily.
At the head of this enterprise is a newcomer to the Catholic Church, Nate Tinner-Williams. Williams attends the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in Louisiana and attends Theological College at Catholic University of America where he prepares for the priesthood.
Does this sound like the path of a lifelong devout Catholic? Well, not so.
The most compelling part of Williams’ story is that he is relatively new to the Catholic Church, having completed his journey to Catholicism in 2019. AFRO reached out to learn more about how this “graft » black catholic became involved in the development of a publication. for the community of more than three million black Catholics, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
“The year after my conversion, I began to wonder if there was still a black Catholic newspaper,” Williams said.
Williams had already researched and read about Catholicism before his conversion. You can say that Catholicism was in his line. It turns out his mother. was adopted into a black Catholic family, including his grandparents.
“I didn’t know any of this when I converted,” Williams said. By the time Williams converted, he had already done a lot of reading and research on the Black Catholic tradition.
The first black Catholic newspaper owned and operated by a black American was the AAmerican Catholic Tribunedeveloped from Ohio Grandstandfounded by Daniel Rudd in 1885. Rudd, both a journalist and an activist, was also the founder of what is now known as the Black Catholic Congress.
the American Catholic Tribune printed its last issue in 1897. Williams indicated that there had been a few other attempts at a national publication for black Catholics, but nothing sustained.
“There was really nothing there,” Williams said. “So I said, ‘why don’t we have media like other Catholic groups?'”
“Me and a group of other young black Catholics said, ‘Let’s do this,'” Williams said. According to Williams, the platform reaches readers across the United States and around the world. “We specifically focused on African-American Catholics, so wherever they are in the world, we will write about them,” he said.
“I want African American Catholics to see our publication as their platform. It’s a place to tell their stories. We are looking for more stories and more writers. We want as many people to join us as they can,” Williams said.
Check out the Black Catholic Messenger at: https://www.blackcatholicmessenger.com.
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