In keeping with the revisedmusicalinterpretation of the new edition of the Roman Missal,the Office of Black Catholics for the Diocese of Baton Rouge sponsored aworkshop on the revisionsof the music from an African-American perspective.

Even though theliturgical musicof the Western European tradition is to be remembered, cherished and used, the rich cultural and ethnic heritage of the diverse people of our country must be recognized, fostered and celebrated, said Deacon Alfred Adams, director of the Office of Black Catholics.

July 9, 250 musicians, cantors, choir directors and members, parishioners, deacons and priests from 15 predominantly African-American churches in the dioceses of Baton Rouge and Houma-Thibodaux and the Archdiocese of New Orleans met at St. Catherine of Siena Multi-Purpose Center in Donaldsonville for the workshop.

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Musicians and church leaders from 15 largely African-American churches in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux listen to Richard A. Cheri, far left, talk about the music that will become part of the liturgy when the new edition of the Roman Missal comes into use on the first Sunday of Advent. Photo provided by Deacon Alfred Adams


Richard A. Cheri, a native of Montz, La. presented the workshop. Cheri has a masters degree in theology and is an instructor at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans. He took those attending the workshop step-by-step through the revisionsto the liturgical music that will become effective on the first Sunday of Advent when the new edition of the Roman Missal comes into use.

The late Pope Paul VI duringa visit to Africa stated:”You are now missionaries to yourselves. You must now give your gifts of blackness to the whole Church.”

Cheri said African-Americans want to be able to share and incorporate their gifts from their particular black perspective.

We want to do this by recognizing that we are black and Catholic,” he added.

Cheri recalled for those gathered the words of the late Sister Thea Bowman, illuminating what it means to be black and Catholic. Sister Thea said, It means that I come to my Church fully functioning. I bring myself, my black self, all that I am, all that I have, and all that I hope to become.I bring my whole history, my traditions, my experiences, my culture, my African-American songs and dances and gesturesand movements and teaching and preaching and responsibilities as gifts to the church.”