Rev. Forrest Pritchett (left) and Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, Joseph N. Perry (right)
Rev. Forrest Pritchett, Senior Adviser to Provost on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, recently completed a pilgrimage to Louisiana to further prepare his foundation to understand issues surrounding the experiences of Black Catholics in the United States.
In his trip to the southern part of the state, Rev. Pritchett met with faculty from Xavier University of Louisiana to discuss future collaborations between the institution and Seton Hall as well as with Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, Joseph N. Perry, the Diocesan Postulator for the canonization of the first African American saint, Venerable Augustus Tolton.
Rev. Pritchett emphasized his quest for additional, foundational guidance as a pilgrimage, highlighting: "Business trips have organizational objectives, whereas pilgrimages seek God's will, objectives and seeing God in the everything."
First stopping in New Orleans, Rev. Pritchett consulted with Kathleen Dorsey Bellow, Ph.D., the director of Xavier University's Institute for Black Catholic Studies (IBCS) around the potential development of faculty seminars, a course in religious history and tours for local, historical sites among the two universities.
During his visit, Rev. Pritchett also attended an IBCS-hosted workshop, "Racial Justice and the Demands of Discipleship: Realizing Pope Francis' Vision," delivered by Bryan Massingale, Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University. Massingale is known as a leading Catholic social ethicist and scholar of African-American theological ethics, racial justice and liberation theology.
Following the workshop, Rev. Pritchett traveled to New Iberia, where he met Auxiliary Bishop Perry at an event supporting the sainthood for Tolton, who was also the first recognized African-American Catholic priest.
In conversing with Bishop Perry, Rev. Pritchett shared the University's support for his advocacy efforts around the canonization of Tolton. While discussing their mutual connection with the late Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Newark, Joseph A. Francis, Bishop Perry mentioned Bishop Francis as a model for him. Bishop Francis served from 1976 to 1995 and was known as of the first Blacks in the Catholic Church to speak out against racism.
"I shared many stories of the influence of both Bishop Francis and Sister Rose Thering over my values and social justice commitment during my early years at Seton Hall," reflected Rev. Pritchett.
Having returned from his pilgrimage, Rev. Pritchett plans to develop follow-up initiatives such as courses, articles, panels and conference presentations to strengthen the University in line with its strategic plan, Harvest Our Treasures, and related objectives regarding the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
"One of the objectives will be to infuse related content into the culture and courses offerings of Seton Hall," said Rev. Pritchett. "This will include content on the Black Catholic experience, joining the advocacy efforts for the canonization of African American candidates, commemorating Black Catholic History Month in November, and more."
Categories: Faith and Service