MERRILLVILLE — Roman Catholics in the Diocese of Gary are invited to join others across the United States on Sept. 9 for a day of prayer and fasting in support of peace and an end to racism.
Bishop Robert J. McClory is encouraging Catholics to examine their conscience and repent for the sin of racism. For Catholics, prayer and fasting are acts of repentance and reparation.
“As our nation continues to be confronted with racial tension and civil unrest, we might be tempted to believe ourselves powerless to respond,” McClory said. “However, we can all respond on a personal level — and that personal transformation can lend itself to communal engagement.”
The feast day of St. Peter Claver, a 17th-century priest who ministered to slaves as they arrived on slave ships in Colombia, is observed on Sept. 9. He is the patron saint of interracial justice and African Americans.
The bishop is recommending Catholics use the questions shared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to begin the process of examination. These questions guide Catholics to reflect on their actions, their thoughts, and their biases.
Have I done enough to inform myself about the sin of racism, its roots, and its historical and contemporary manifestations?
Have I opened my heart to see how unequal access to economic opportunity, jobs, housing, and education based on skin color, race, or ethnicity, has denied and continues to deny the equal dignity of others?
Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, La., chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, offered this perspective: “In the midst of our country’s ongoing racial unrest, we restate our commitment to peacefully seeking racial justice. … We reiterate the value of those whose human life and dignity in this country are marginalized through racism and our need to fight for them, including the unborn.”
McClory will begin that Wednesday with a 7 a.m. prayer service at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary. The cathedral will be open to for public prayer from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. when the Rev. Michael Surufka, administrator of the cathedral, will conclude the day with benediction at 5 p.m. and Mass at 5:30 p.m.
Those unable to attend services may view the livestream. Links for the livestream and signup for the day’s activities are available through the diocesan website, dcgary.org.
Addressing racism is nothing new in the four-county Diocese of Gary. Bishop Andrew G. Grutka, the first bishop of Gary, spoke on racism at the Second Vatican Council in Rome in the early 1960s. Bishop Dale J. Melczek, its third bishop, wrote several pastoral letters on racism and encouraged discussion on the topic.
The Diocese of Gary has an estimated 185,000 Catholics in 67 parishes.