Image Courtesy of Patrick Ryan
By Anthony Curioso
A Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Chapel was offered as a commemoration of the feast day of St. Martin de Porres on Friday, November 3, during the typical 5:10 P.M.
It was planned by the student-run Black Student Alliance (BSA) and CUA’s Campus Ministry in collaboration with Howard’s Catholic Chaplain and Gospel Choir.
This Mass featured Howard University’s Catholic Chaplain, Rev. Robert Boxie III, as the principal celebrant and homilist, with Fr. Aquinas and Fr. Bernard from CUA’s Campus Ministry office concelebrating. The Mass was packed, with dozens of people coming from Catholic U and Howard University alike.
Howard’s Gospel Choir put their own gospel twists on the mass parts that are customarily sung in a Novus Ordo mass, and also sang gospel style hymns such as “We’ve Come This Far By Faith” and “I Am the Bread of Life.” The congregation seemed extremely engaged with the music and every song got most of the congregation to sing along.
Fr. Boxie’s homily began with a brief summary of the life of St. Martin de Porres, including a description of all of the hatred that he faced – not only from society, but also from his fellow Dominicans. Fr. Boxie then related St. Martin’s experience to the experience that people of color face in society today.
“We are still living in a time with those same barriers and even those same effects,” Fr. Boxie said.
Then, Fr. Boxie described St. Martin’s perseverance and love for all whom he encountered, despite the horrific treatment he received. Fr. Boxie encouraged the congregation to all apply the same principles of perseverance and love for others to our own lives and our interactions with each other.
“[St. Martin] really took to heart the principle of ‘love thy neighbor’, and at all times he continued to love everyone, everywhere within his reach,” Fr. Boxie said. “To bring our campuses, our ministries, our people together is a testament to this. This is how our Church should be and how our campuses should be.”
After the Mass finished, a veneration of St. Martin’s relics took place, followed by a Soul Food Dinner in Heritage Hall catered by Carolina Kitchen. The menu included fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, collard greens, and candied yams–typical foods one might think of when they hear the term “soul food.” Only a negligible amount of food remained after all of the attendees had eaten their fill.
Austin Mosley, junior Business Administration major with a Music minor and BSA president, was especially involved in planning the event. Understanding that Campus Ministry wanted to honor Black History Month, he reached out to Fr. Boxie.
“We saw the success of the event in years past, and we wanted to repeat that,” Mosley said. “We got to talking, and we realized that it would be a perfect opportunity to bring our two campuses together for mass, then have a nice dinner afterward.”
Mosley has many wide-reaching goals for the Soul Food Dinner and Gospel Mass event, which tracks with his ambitions for BSA this year.
“The goal with this event is to keep it as an annual thing to honor Black Catholic History Month, and make sure more people are aware of the opportunity to celebrate it,” Mosley said. “In terms of BSA this year, we really want to continue to have events that a lot of people come to and have a good time, such as Black and White Tie and others.”