CUA on Tap Discusses Experiences of the Black Catholic Community


Image Courtesy of Ellie Bixenman

By Zachary Lichter

Campus Ministry hosted a panel called “Voices of Faith: and the Transformative Power of the EUCHARIST” on February 15 to continue their  “CUA on Tap” monthly event series

The panel featured Lance Casimir, a CUA alumnus and board of trustee, who is currently an attorney advisor for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Nicole Germain, the Director of Public Relations at CUA, joined the panel discussion as well. 

According to Father Aquinas Guilbeau, February’s CUA on Tap has been dedicated to celebrating the Black Catholic experience by inviting speakers close to CUA who are a part of the Black Catholic community. The panel began with Father Aquinas asking them to talk about themselves and to explain how they became associated with CUA.

Germain is originally from Jamaica and moved to Massachusetts when she was seven.  Her career has led her to work with Catholic Relief Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and she now works at CUA. 

Casimir spoke about his upbringing, sharing that he grew up Catholic with Haitian parents. His Catholic faith became noticeable when Mass was not made a priority to him growing up, not just on Sundays, but just preparing for Mass. He met his wife on the second day of orientation at CUA, and they got married in 2020, later having and currently having two children.

Father Aquinas then asked both participants about their earliest memories of going to Mass. 

Germain said that it was hard for her family of seven siblings to get dressed and to leave for Mass. Her mother was often distressed getting in the car. However, her family was usually much calmer once everyone was seated at church. Mass allowed them to sit quietly, reflect, and avoid the noisy family atmosphere.

Casimir shared that he and his older brother were altar servers.  They always had to get to Mass early to help the priest set up. Casimir recalled the importance of paying attention to what the priest was doing and knowing all the altar server cues. At the end of Mass, Casimir’s mother would ask the two brothers what the homily was about as a test of their attention span.

Father Aquinas’s next question was when the speakers knew Christ was present in the Blessed Sacrament. 

Casimir said his first experience of Christ’s presence was during his First Holy Communion. The CUA alumnus said he understood Christ was present, and that understanding developed over time. 

Germain said her grandma often would remind her of the necessary reverence towards the Eucharist. She sat next to Germain, whispering in her ear about being respectful and sitting quietly.

Germain shared that when she receives the Eucharist, it makes her feel emotional. Germain commented that the Eucharist is more than just a wafer, because it is spiritual for her. Once she takes the Eucharist in her mouth, she visualizes how it is premeditated throughout her body and how the Holy Spirit works with it.

Father Aquinas asked Casimir and Germain how important their college years were for learning the faith, growing in it, exercising and expressing it, and developing the friendships necessary to grow in virtue and to share the faith with others.

Germain said that as Catholics, we are ambassadors for Christ in the classroom and in our friendships with our neighbors. When Germain was in college, she tried to embody that. It was important for her to show that in everything she did. 

Casimir said that college was an essential time to establish good habits through sports or other activities. He said you must have a similar outlook regarding your spiritual life. 

During his time at CUA and law school at George Mason University, his Catholic faith was in his own hands. Therefore, Casimir sought to incorporate the sacraments into his life, going to Daily Mass on campus. He still attends Daily Mass.

Father Aquinas then spoke of Eucharistic Revival (a movement in the United States restoring the understanding and devotion of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist), asking the panel what they believe the Church is doing well or poorly for the Black Catholic Community. 

Germain said that when she gave birth to her son, a Eucharist Minister brought the Eucharist to her the day after he was born. This surprised her, and Germain said she was touched. She said the Church could build a community by going out to where the parishioners are, whether in the hospital or in school. As a Catholic, she wants the Church to be a home for everyone.

Casimir said that his parish does a good job of making the sacraments accessible. At his parish, there is Mass in the mornings and evenings. Priests are always hearing Confessions with lines going out the door. 

The CUA alumnus said that the Eucharistic Revival with processions in the DMV area is a good idea. Casimir hopes that it does not stop at the end of the revival. He hopes this continues by making the sacraments more accessible.

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