During a 1987 address to the black community in New Orleans, St. Pope John Paul II proclaimed that the “black cultural heritage enriches the church and makes her witness of universality more complete.”
The highly successful “Word of God” revival held two years ago at Christ the King Parish in Springfield has convinced the diocesan Black Catholic Commission to schedule another, this time at St. Patrick Church, 407 E. Eldorado St. in Decatur on March 12-13 at 7 p.m. The revival project was the brainchild of former Commission member Father Fernand Cheri, OFM, now auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese in New Orleans.
The guest speaker each evening will be Father David Jones, pastor of St. Benedict the African–East Parish in Chicago. The topic for March 12 is “Why I came to church” and will feature the African Ensemble Choir. The following evening’s (March 13) topic will be “Why I remain in church,” and will feature music of a combined choir from Catholic churches in Decatur.
Father Jones, whose motto is “To God be the glory!” grew up in Chicago. He, his parents, and older sisters were members of St. Cecilia Parish in the tight-knit Fuller Park neighborhood. The Jones children were all taught by Sisters of Mercy, who were often welcomed guests in the Jones’ home. One of the sisters, Sister Florentina Flood, even took credit for his vocation. Later in life, she shared how she laid baby David on the altar and pray that he would become a priest.
After graduating from Grambling University and a brief time in the corporate world, Father Jones realized that his heart was geared more toward serving people and God. He earned his Master of Divinity from St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary and ordained in 1989 by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
“All are welcomed,” said Donna Moore, director of the diocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities and Special Ministries. “It will be an enriching experience for all members of our diocese; and I can’t think of a better way to begin the Lenten season.”