September 2, 2016

Reflection / Sally Stovall

African National Eucharistic Congress a celebration of faith

I am honored to have recently chaired the 2016 African National Eucharistic Congress (ANEC) in Washington on Aug. 5-7, and the event was electrifying and a huge success. Twenty-two people from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis attended the Congress as delegates, and they represented the Church in central and southern Indiana very well.

It is always an exciting time every four to five years when African Catholics in the United States gather together to celebrate our Catholic faith in the Eucharist, and to meet our brothers and sisters in Christ. This national gathering allows African Catholics in the United States to join together and strengthen our Catholic identity. As the number of African Catholics in the United States continues to grow, we need to be motivated about ANEC, get involved and help to continue to spread the word about this event.

The theme for the congress was “Responding to the New Evangelization: The African Catholic Family, A Gift to the Church in America.” We had the opportunity to hear from our keynote speaker, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, La., who also is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on African-American Affairs. He reminded us of all the gifts that we have to offer.

At the Congress, we had time for prayer and attended educational sessions, workshops, youth workshops and an awards ceremony for the best youth and young adult essay. Miranda Stovall and Ikenna Stovall, both members of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis, attended the Congress and were among the winners of the youth essay competition.

Eucharistic adoration, a rosary procession, networking, a tour of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine and an African gala celebration were among other highlights.

We had the opportunity to attend a special workshop on the Zaire use, the Mass from the Roman Missal for the Dioceses of Zaire. The seminar was led by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, Congo.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry of Chicago, who is episcopal liaison to the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States, presided over the electrifying closing eucharistic celebration. A choir from Indianapolis participated at both Masses.

Other sessions focused on concerns facing our youths and young adults, such as “living among different cultures.” We had more than 100 youths and young adults in attendance.

I’d like to thank all those who attended the congress, including Deacon Michael Braun, director of the archdiocesan Secretariat of Pastoral Ministries, and Pearlette Springer, archdiocesan coordinator of Black Catholic Ministry. Kudos also go to all local members who were a part of the ANEC planning committee, and those who participated or donated toward the group’s ethnic dinner fundraiser to make it possible for some of us to attend.

For more information on the archdiocese’s African Catholic Ministry and to see videos and photos from the congress, go to

(Sally Stovall, a native of Nigeria, is a member of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis and is president of the archdiocese’s African Catholic Ministry. She chaired the USCCB’s organizing committee for the congress.)

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