‘We’ve Come This Far’ on a chartered bus from Camden

For Deacon Bill Johnson the National Black Catholic Congress is a five-year “family reunion” because he gets to celebrate his faith with Deacon Carl Johnson of Charleston, W. Va.

The two clergymen, who walk in procession together for the liturgies, are brothers, but other Catholics describe the event in terms of the bonds they share with other participants.

Deacon Bill Johnson of Holy Cross Parish, Bridgeton, and his wife Sandra have attended four congresses, which are held every five years.

Attending the congress for the first time, Corlis Sellers said she was “awestruck to experience liturgies with over 2,000 black Catholics throughout the country under the same roof.”

“The liturgies, which were uniquely and beautifully African-American in expression were experienced and enjoyed by the faithful of all races,” she said. “It was beautiful and heart warming to see so many embrace our Lord in this expression.”

Sellers is associate director of Lifelong Faith Formation for Black Catholics, Diocse of Camden. She and 17 others from the diocese, representing nine parishes, chartered a bus with a group from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to travel to Indianapolis for the event, held July 19-21.

A number of young people attended the event, including Veronica Adams, 15, of St. Monica Parish, Atlantic City. “The workshops especially helped me understand the importance of being Catholic and committed to God,” she said.

To witness so many clergy in procession for the opening liturgy was electrifying, and then to share the same space with so many other black Catholics from all over the United States was magnificent,” said Cherryl Summers of St. Josephine Bakhita Parish, Camden.

She and others said a highlight of the congress was the address by Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza. “Her amazing story brings into full meaning the African American spiritual ‘We’ve Come This Far By Faith, Leaning on the Lord.’”

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