Campus Ministers At Historically Black Colleges Meet
Published: October 26, 2006
ATLANTA—After four years of planning and preparation, a bit of history was made Oct. 13 and 14. Catholic campus ministers, directors of campus ministry and student representatives from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) came together for the first time at Lyke House, the Catholic Center at Atlanta University Center, for a summit on the state of Catholic campus ministry at these institutions.
The first phase of the summit assembled nearly 30 participants who came from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and the District of Columbia. The summit began with an opening prayer and praise service led by Father Edward Branch, Lyke House campus minister since 1990.
On Oct. 13 there were presentations by Beverly Carroll, director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for African-American Catholics, Michael Galligan-Stierle, Ph.D., assistant secretary for Catholic higher education and campus ministry, Desmond Drummer, a senior at Morehouse College, Atlanta, and Candis Mayweather, an alumna of Spelman College, Atlanta. Galligan-Stierle provided a summary of the 1985 pastoral letter issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Empowered By The Spirit: Campus Ministry Faces the Future.”
“It does a wonderful job elaborating on the history, context, people and programs to be offered within campus ministry in any setting,” he said.
His presentation was followed by a dialogue on what the group thought could enhance the ministry at historically black colleges and universities.
Summit attendees also participated in small and large group discussions where they shared ministry experiences, exchanged information, gathered data, and laid the groundwork for the next summit. Dominic J. Perri, an independent organizational development consultant who works with church groups, facilitated the summit. The first day of the summit concluded with a dinner at Paschal’s Restaurant, a landmark soul food eatery that borders the Atlanta University Center, where the civil rights leaders of the 1960s gathered to strategize. Rev. Herman “Skip” Mason Jr., pastor of Greater Hopewell CME Church and Morehouse archivist, was the keynote speaker for the dinner.
The summit concluded Oct. 14 with an in-depth discussion on what the group would like to see in a pastoral plan for black Catholic campus ministry. The HBCU Catholic Campus Ministry Summit has two additional phases planned. The second phase is designed to take the information and revelations from the first summit and formulate a pastoral plan for campus ministry at HBCUs. The third phase will focus on identifying and recruiting 60 prospective black Catholic campus ministers for training and certification for campus ministry at HBCUs, as well as other colleges and universities. Of the 103 historically black colleges and universities identified, 44 have a Catholic campus ministry presence staffed by a layperson or clergyman.
Father Branch, a campus minister for 27 of his 32 years as a priest, shared the idea for the summit with three other colleagues following the 2002 national convention of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. Through the donations of the Diocese of Raleigh, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Office for Black Catholic Ministry, and Lyke House, over $10,000 was provided for the first phase of the HBCU Catholic Campus Ministry Summit.
Speaking about the initial summit, Father Branch said, “I hoped we would gather some current information on the state of campus ministry at HBCUs and about black students nationally. I also hoped that we would be able to get some sense of what is happening at each site, that people would be able to talk to one another, and we could lay the groundwork for the second phase of the summit. We achieved all of the above.”
For additional information contact Father Edward Branch at (404) 755-2646.