Northeast Omaha parish celebrates faith, service to community

Archbishop George J. Lucas joined the faithful at St. Benedict the Moor Parish in Omaha June 3 for a Mass celebrating their parish’s 100 years of service to the black community in northeast Omaha.
During his homily the archbishop said, “As we celebrate 100 years of parish life in this community, we think of when this parish began, and the sin of racism was very evident in our church and our world – something for which we must still repent. And we know that African-American Catholics were so often not welcomed in most other parish communities.
“But through the power of Jesus’ grace, and through the people who were able to work together, the parish community of St. Benedict the Moor was formed so people could be sure that in their lives, as they responded to the invitation of Jesus Christ to be his disciples and his friends, that Jesus wanted to identify with them. And Jesus has been right at the heart of this parish community from the very beginning.” 
Parishioner Clarissa Love said the celebration was wonderful. 
“All my family members who have belonged to this church would be very proud … and I’m thankful for the parish’s contribution to the neighborhood and the whole church family,” she said. 
Eddie Glass, a parishioner for 73 years, enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with former parishioners who traveled to Omaha to join the celebration.
He also recalled the positive role models the men of the parish were for him and his friends as they grew up. “We didn’t have to look for role models, because they were right there in the parish.
“They taught us their crafts, they coached basketball, led the Boy Scout troop,” he said. “The men of the parish took a lot of time to be with us.”
After the Mass, about 170 current and past parishioners, plus other members of the community and from throughout Omaha, enjoyed a buffet lunch at the 75 North Highlander Accelerator Building.
Anniversary celebrations also included a “Gospel Extravaganza” June 1 at the church featuring the parish’s gospel and Africa choirs, as well as choirs from the nearby Fellowship Christian Center and Our Lady of Africa Choir from St. Gerald Parish in Ralston.
A Day of Reflection Conference and Community Service was held June 2 at Jesuit Middle School, sponsored by the local chapter of the National Black Catholic Congress. It included presentations on the parish’s history, reflections and memories by religious sisters and deacons, discussion of past struggles and accomplishments, and suggestions for spiritual and community growth. It also focused on ways to engage black Catholic youth.
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