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Mass focuses on violence, racism

More than 330 Catholics from around the Archdiocese of New Orleans gathered March 1 at historic St. Augustine Catholic Church in Treme to celebrate a special Mass against violence and racism.
The Mass was organized by a group of African-American youth called the IMANI Youth and Young Adult Leadership Team.
Started by Dr. Ansel Augustine, director of the Office of Black Catholics, the IMANI Team consists of young, African-Americans from around the archdiocese.

Some of the youth are members of the archdiocese’s youth leadership board known as Teen C.R.O.S.S. (Teen Catholics Reaching Out in Selfless Service), and others are part of other youth ministries from across the Archdiocese.

Youth of ‘faith’
The name “IMANI” comes from the East-African Swahili language. In English, the name means “faith.”

Every year, this team organizes a revival-type event held during Lent, which focuses on current events and reacquainting those who attend to the African-American Catholic community.

In previous years, the event had taken the shape of an actual revival and a Gospel choir concert.

This year, the IMANI Team had decided to celebrate a Mass dedicated to those who have died in result of violence and racism.
At the call to worship before Mass, the team paid tribute to those from previous and present generations who have been killed due to violence and racism.

The overarching theme was that “all lives matter.”

Oblate Father Emmanuel Mulenga, pastor of St. Augustine Church, was the principal celebrant and delivered a homily centered around the Gospel, which was the Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2-10). He also touched on the theme of the Mass, “Let Us Find Out.”

Deacon Lawrence Houston of St. Peter Claver Church and Xavier University’s Campus Ministry Gospel Choir participated in the Mass and led the musical worship.

The event was co-sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministries and the CYO/Youth and Young Adult Ministry.