Cardinal Wuerl Honors Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Annual Concert and Mass

“Throughout history, God has called individuals to respond to the needs of the hour and to do so in a way that through them the glory of God would be seen.””

January 18, 2014

HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington was the principal celebrant and homilist for the Archdiocese of Washington’s annual Mass celebrating the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Mass was preceded by a special music program by the Archdiocese of Washington Mass Gospel Choir, directed by Kenneth Louis. Each year, this Mass draws Catholics of all backgrounds and not only celebrates the memory of Dr. King, but also celebrates the rich history of black Catholics in the archdiocese. This year’s Mass was held at Mount Calvary Catholic Church in Forestville with the theme, “Free at Last: True Freedom in the Spirit.”

Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by referencing Pope Francis, Nelson Mandela, and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., all recently the subject of cover stories in the news media. Each were examples of the theme of today’s Mass, he said. “How is it possible that these individuals have stepped forward and enriched all of us, helping us walk in the way of the Lord in a way that we can experience the glory of God?” The Cardinal referenced the Responsorial Psalm for the Mass and said these individuals simply replied: “Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will.” (Psalms 40)

“With a conviction deeply rooted in his faith in Jesus Christ, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave true meaning and definition to two words that are oftentimes today overused and devalued. In his life they take on their true meaning and worth. These words, ‘prophetic’ and ‘countercultural’ come so readily to mind because we have just listened to the words of Isaiah, the Prophet, whose whole life, mission and ministry was countercultural.”

“The title, ‘prophet’ is given to one who proclaims God’s Word, testifies to God’s will and challenges his hearers to walk in God’s ways. The word, ‘countercultural’ speaks to us today of living the life of the Spirit, trusting in God’s presence, believing in his Word and working to manifest his kingdom in a world that simply looks elsewhere for its inspiration. Today, as we celebrate Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we see alive with true meaning those words, prophetic and countercultural, defined in his life, his mission and his ministry.”

The Cardinal concluded his homily, “Tonight as we celebrate that voice, let us always thank God for the prophetic witness for the countercultural crusade he led and for our call, each of us today, to continue the vision, to realize the dream, to live as we truly ought to as the conscience of our culture.”

At the end of the Mass, the winners of the essay contest co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Black Catholics and the Catholic Schools Office were recognized and honored. Deacon Al Turner, the director of the Office of Black Catholics, called each student forward and Cardinal Wuerl presented them with an award plaque. The essays were based on the theme of this year’s celebration, “Free at Last: True Freedom in the Spirit,” and were given to the following students:

• First Place: Katie May, St. Elizabeth Catholic School
• Second Place: Maria Marius, Mother of God School
• Third Place: Sophie Wagner, Holy Redeemer School, College Park
• Honorable Mention: Ryan Krawczewicz, St. Bernadette School

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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