by Leslye Colvin
Ed. Note: This post originally appeared on Leslye’s blog, Leslye’s Labyrinth.
Upon hearing of the local cathedral offering a program that addressed poverty and the Church’s social justice teachings, I knew it was for me. Through JustFaith, I was provided insight to the heart of the Gospel of Christ as taught by the Catholic Church. Having entered this church as a young child in an apartheid state, I had already gained a deep appreciation of Moses and the Exodus from the Black Protestant Church. I also recognized the strong similarities between the enslavement and subsequent struggles of the Hebrew people, and us as African-Americans. The connection and assurance of God’s presence in the midst of ineffable suffering was as certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.
My family entered the Catholic Church amidst the racial segregation of Alabama in the mid-1960s. While both priests and some parishioners welcomed us, our lived experience was only one on a spectrum shared by African-American Catholics. Unfortunately, too many who self-identify as Catholic and/or Christian disregard the contradiction between the Gospel and the legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade as enshrined in systems perpetuating injustice and inequity. It was decades later through JustFaith that I saw my family’s experience of welcome by some as a clear example of the Church’s social teaching on human dignity.
This was transformative as I began to feel a pull towards a professional path guided by these principles…