The National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus (NBCCC) of the United States designates November as Black Catholic History Month to celebrate and remember the heritage of Black Catholics. The month of November was chosen because of the number of important dates to Catholics of African descent that fall within this month:
- Nov. 1 All Saints Day: an opportunity to review the lives of the hundreds of Saints of African descent in the first 300 years of the Church.
- Nov. 2 All Souls Day: a time to remember all those African lost to cruel treatment in the Middle Passage crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Nov. 3 Martin de Porres became the first black American saint. He was canonized by Pope John XXIII on May 16, 1962. Throughout his life, St. Martin de Porres exemplified God’s love for all people, regardless of their level in society. The first celebration of Black Catholic History Month began in November of 1990 with the celebration of St. Martin de Porres Feast day.
- Nov. 13 The birth of St. Augustine in 354 A.D., the first Doctor of the Church from North Africa.
- Nov. 20 The death of Zumbi of Palmares in Brazil, South American founder of a free state for Blacks.
Africa traces its Christian roots to the conversion of an unnamed Ethiopian Eunuch by St. Philip the Deacon as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles 8: 26-40. This conversion of a wealthy Jewish court official marks the beginning of the universal Church. North Africa later became an important Church center in early Christianity.
Click here to learn more about the history of Black Catholics and Black Catholic saints and martyrs.
On November 12, 2017, Fr. Leo Hodges, pastor at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Orlando celebrated a special Mass to honor Black Catholic History Month. The Mass was accompanied by a new Praise and Worship choir, directed by Vincent Howard.