Hello readers! Time for another fun reveal from the Rave Reviews Book Club. By the way, if you’re not a member, you’re missing out. But today, I’m happy to tell you about Our Lady of Victory by Shirley Harris-Slaughter. She actually wrote this post, so see what she has to say…
Our Lady of Victory
On February 2, 2014 a letter was written to the editor of our local paper (The Oakland Press) by a reader. The headline: ”Declining Attendance Worries Parishioner.” Needless to say I did a double take and read it. The reader was concerned about what was going on in his parish since their exceptional pastor passed away. Things started to decline ever since.
On February 9, 2014, I and two other readers responded and our letters were posted. The two readers’ response was the same as the original writer — same problems. Mine was different in that our problems were more complex. These respondents always had a pastor assigned to their parishes over the long-term. My parish rarely had that experience and there were few if any priests that looked like us groomed to take over the helm of our parish community. I learned in my research that the diocese was built along ethnic lines. There was a German priest for a German church, Italian priest for Italian congregation, and so on. But no ethnic priest for our community and that’s why enrollment declined at such a fast pace and the problems are so complex. So here we are today closed although they won’t call it that. I had already wrote the letter below because I always write when I am faced with something I cannot control. Here is the letter I wrote to myself…
DEAR POPE FRANCIS
You are the most refreshing pope since I have been a catholic, which was most of my life. Your coming couldn’t have happened a moment too soon. I am about to be a fallen-away catholic. The policies of the Archdiocese of Detroit are killing my parish. It has been killing it for a long time and now I have had enough.
Researching our history has opened my eyes to the mean-spiritness of the hierarchy that has shaped this region for many years. Had you been at the helm a lot of this anti-Christian behavior might not have festered. As you know, the Catholic Church is made up of many ethnic groups. All have been treated well with policies that helped them to flourish. Not so in the Black Catholic Community. We were never allowed to have a pastor we could call our own. All we ever got were administrators and it has had a devastating impact on our little community.
Pope Francis, you need to make a trip to the United States and specifically visit our little community. You will get a good look at a church community still struggling to survive. I know you will not be happy with what you find. So while you are chastising the leaders about their rhetoric on gays, abortion, and birth control, perhaps you might want to add a little bit about the racism that has been allowed to fester in the Catholic Church as well and in society as a whole. My book might go a long way in helping you to understand what has happened here. This problem is every bit as debilitating as the other issues facing the church.
And so I have stopped going to my church (I am back sporadically). I never thought that I would allow someone else to dictate when I would make my exit, if I ever did. But it happened and so I am pondering my next move. In the meantime, I did get a response from the diocese but I don’t believe it will result in any significant changes in how they deal with us.
Pope Francis, we need help!
And so, of course, as mentioned, this letter never went out. I just rambled and filed it away. Every incidence we had to face has churned over in my mind and a little voice kept telling me, “Write the story, and preserve what you have.” I finally listened and Our Lady of Victory the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community was born.
I see so many Catholics of all ethnicity wandering around trying to find a parish they can call home because so many churches are closing all around the Detroit area.
Question: As a Christian, how would you rate the Catholic Church in America?
To celebrate being the “SPOTLIGHT” Author for Rave Reviews Book Club, I am giving away an AUTOGRAPHED, LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER COPY of “OUR LADY OF VICTORY: THE SAGA OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN CATHOLIC COMMUNITY.” All you need to do is visit my blog and leave a comment on ANY of my posts. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win! (Only 1 comment allowed per day.) The person who leaves the most comments on my blog during my two weeks as “SPOTLIGHT” Author is the winner! It’s that simple! Restricted to US residents only. Thank you again for the support and GOOD LUCK!!
Shirley Harris-Slaughter is a Michigan native. She was baptized into the Catholic faith with her family as a child and attended Our Lady of Victory School. Shirley lived the history growing up in this West Eight Mile Community and is uniquely qualified to write about it. She watched helplessly as her parish lost its history and identity. Her love of history has propelled her to write about Our Lady of Victory, and correct its omission from the pages of history.
She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Cleary University in Howell, Michigan. She is married to Langston and lives in Oak Park.
Shirley is now a proud member of the Rave Reviews Book Club!
SHIRLEY HARRIS-SLAUGHTER, AUTHOR
Genre: Biography; Narrative History
Twitter Handle: @sharrislaughter