Deacon Al Turner Named Director of Office for Black Catholics

March 09, 2009

Al Turner, a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of Washington and former ABC News cameraman, has been named the director of the Office of Black Catholics, with responsibility to coordinate ministry to Catholics of African ancestry, working closely with parishes and archdiocesan staff. Approximately 100,000 Catholics in the 580,000–member archdiocese are of African descent. They include families with deep local roots as well as new immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean.

“This is a ministry that has a proud history of service. I hope I will help continue to facilitate the archdiocese’s efforts to provide for the pastoral, evangelical and catechetical needs of Catholics of African ancestry, to raise awareness of the needs of Catholics of African ancestry and to encourage and promote the contributions of these Catholics of color,” Deacon Turner said.

An office for Black Catholics first was established in the archdiocese in 1974. Deacon Turner will work closely with pastors and parish leaders as well as the Council for Black Catholics to strengthen ministry related to Catholics of African ancestry throughout the archdiocese, which includes Washington, DC and five Maryland counties. He also will serve on the archdiocesan Committee for Catholic Action, maintain the Black Catholic archives and history project and assist parishes and schools with preparations for key celebrations, such as Black Catholic History Month, the Ugandan Martyrs Feast and the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mass. He also will collaborate closely with organizations such as the Sisters in the Spirit, African Catholic Association, Caribbean Catholic Association of North America and the Archdiocesan Mass Choir.

“The Office will endeavor to be more visible and active in all areas of responsibility and to work to support and promote the mission we share with Archbishop Donald Wuerl to evangelize and catechize in this local Church,” Deacon Turner said.

Deacon Turner serves as a permanent deacon at the Church of the Nativity in Northwest Washington, DC. For the past year, he was on staff in the archdiocese’s Office of Worship, helping to plan liturgies. Prior to that, he spent 28 years as a broadcast technician/cameraman for ABC News, covering the White House, Congress and events around the world. He is a member of the Maryland Catholic Conference Respect Life Committee, the Board of Trustees for the Loyola Retreat Center and the Board of the Northwest Pregnancy Center in Washington, DC. He received a graduate certificate in spiritual direction and a Master of Theological Studies from the Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC.

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Susan Gibbs
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