August 2, 2014
Christ the King Parish, Tampa, Florida
The Black Catholic Assembly of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida hosted a “Day of Reflection on Marriage, Family and Faith” on Saturday, August 2, 2014. Invited to give inspiring and energetic talks to the attendees were Deacon Allen and Edith Stevens, of St. Peter Claver Parish in New Orleans, Louisiana. The day focused on the importance of reviving marriages and families in the Black community, being active, engaged parents and adults in our parishes and setting good examples for our young adults, youth and children through prayerful lives and spiritual practices in our families and homes. The event was open to adults and young adults from around the diocese.
The day began with enthronement of the Bible and prayer that included pouring of libation to the ancestors. After being blessed, a Bible was distributed to each attendee. The couple led a general session that stressed the importance of family and information on evangelizing, setting family goals, and keeping Christ in our marriages and families. Another item that was talked about is the effects of media images and portrayals of Black families.
In the afternoon the group was divided into men and women where the concerns of each were discussed with their respective groups. With the men, Deacon Allen stressed the need for good leaders and mentors, especially in regards to our young men and boys. He talked about the rates of incarceration, the “school-prison-pipeline” and the need for involved advocates for our youth, in particular, those without fathers or positive male role models in their homes. Mrs. Stevens spoke to the women regarding the various roles they play and about taking the time to identify who they are through the day to day activities they do. She stressed spirituality, the value and sincerity of prayer, especially spontaneous prayer, and the need to reach out to family and loved ones.
After bringing the two groups back together, they were divided into parish groups and asked to brainstorm areas to focus on back in their home parishes. Plans included family life programs, marriage enrichment, bible study, mentoring, voter registration, and working with local agencies on recidivism rates for incarcerated individuals. We had a very successful day and plan to expand the event to a full weekend next year and add a youth component so that all family members will be involved.