40 years of African American Apostolate celebrated during anniversary Mass

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NEWARK, NJ — The African American, African and Caribbean Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Newark celebrated a special Mass on Oct. 8 to commemorate two significant milestones — the 40th anniversary of its founding and the 25th anniversary of the death of Bishop Joseph Abel Francis, the first and only black auxiliary bishop in archdiocesan history.

While presiding over the Mass in Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, archbishop of Newark, reflected on how Francis, who was also the titular bishop of Valliposita, overcame poverty in his youth to become a bishop who combated racism on a national scale. Tobin also expressed admiration for the Maasai people of Africa, noting that they greet each other by asking, “Are the children safe?” He acknowledged that Archdiocesan Catholics cannot agree that their collective children are safe considering violence and inequality among black youth. But that situation can be changed, he said.

“Together, if we (follow the examples) of Bishop Joseph Francis, of our own mothers and fathers, of those who pass on to us what had been given to them, we will be able to find the blessing,” Tobin said. 

The double anniversary Mass honored black heritage with a display of photos of black candidates for sainthood; music and readings were presented in dialects such as Swahili, French-Creole and Igbo; and many of the liturgy’s attendees wore attire that represented their ethnicities.

Photos Courtesy of Alexandra Rojas/Archdiocese of Newark