February 21, 2014

Seminarian Douglas Hunter elected president of National Black Catholic Seminarians Association

By Natalie Hoefer

Douglas HunterDouglas Hunter, an archdiocesan seminarian at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, was recently elected president of the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association (NBCSA).

Hunter, who is currently serving a pastoral year at St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, said people ask him “Why do we have a black Catholic seminarian association?”

“When I tell them my personal journey of being the only African-American in the seminary, their tone starts to change.

“The association is not about singling themselves out of the rest of the seminary population, but to create a network of those in similar situations, such as mine,” Hunter explained.

“It’s mostly about building fraternity among black Catholic seminarians. It’s not about creating a subculture within our respective seminaries, but providing a resource for the small number of black Catholic seminarians spread through the United States.

“While reaching out to other black Catholic seminarians through networking, we’re helping out as an extension or support of the overall seminary formation process.”

According to its website, the NBCSA “seeks to contribute to the well-being of candidates for priesthood and religious life, with an emphasis on Black American, African, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Latino candidates preparing to serve the Church in the United States and its territories,” and “to promote knowledge of, and apostolic works in, the diverse Black Catholic community in the United States. Promoting vocations to priesthood and religious life has become central to the identity and mission of NBCSA.”

Hunter, who was nominated and elected by his peers in the organization, said he was surprised by the election results.

“I served on the NBCSA executive board for two years as treasurer,” he said.

“Toward the end of my term, I ran for a different position and lost.

“I accepted the nomination [for president] and, from there, my name was placed on the ballot. A few days after the election, to my surprise, I was elected as president.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead such a great group of gentlemen. I see this as a great networking opportunity for the Church and the association.”

Hunter, a former Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer, said his primary duty as president of the NBCSA is “to bind all seminarians together, both black and non-black, for the love and service of Christ and his Church. For me, I will have more of a concentration on black Catholic seminarians.”

When asked how he would handle the presidential responsibilities combined with his seminary studies and responsibilities, Hunter responded, “Like everything else in the seminary—with prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit!”

Fortunately, said Hunter, most of the meetings take place in the evening via teleconference, and in-person gatherings occur primarily during the summer months.

Some of those meetings will be with the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus (NBCCC) executive board, where, as president of the NBCSA, Hunter will have a seat representing black Catholic seminarians throughout the United States.

When interacting with the NBCCC, Hunter will have the opportunity to work with Father Kenneth Taylor, pastor of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis, who was elected president of the NBCCC last year.

“I was excited when I got the word that [Hunter] was elected,” said Father Taylor.

“He has a lot of practical experience in the world that he can bring to the association, not just from book learning but with his career. That will be very helpful for the seminarians to have someone who has both academic learning and practical experience.”

Hunter’s term as president for the NBCSA will end in February of 2016.

After that, he said, “if it’s God’s will, I will be ordained to the priesthood in [the summer of] 2016.” †

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