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Ok! It wasn’t a test. It was just an article about November as Black Catholic History Month. But there was so much I did not know. If I took a flash quiz based on the article I would have flunked.

In a playful mood, I reworked it in the form of a quiz.

Here is the quiz with the answers. (Just be honest with the bonus question which only you can answer!)

  • When did black catholic history begin?

Black Catholic History began in the Acts of the Apostles (8: 26-40) with the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Philip the Deacon. 

  • Can you name at least one of 3 African Popes who are saints?

Saints Victor I, Melchiades, and Gelasius I—were born in Africa and led the early church through much turmoil.

  • Who is the most famous African saint who shaped Catholic thought for centuries?

Augustine of Hippo from Tagaste, Numidia [now Souk Ahras, Algeria]

  • Can you name one of the two African women invoked in the official litany of the Saints used  at the Easter Vigil, Infant baptism, the election of a Pope and the dedication of churches and altars.

Perpetua, and Felicitas

  • Can you name 3 of the 6 black Catholics who are on the path to Sainthood.

Pierre Toussaint

Mother Mary Lange

Henriette Delille

Fr. Augustus Tolton

Julia Greeley

Sr. Thea Bowman

  • How many Catholics today are of African descent?

There are 200 million people of African descent in the Catholic Church throughout the world.

How did you do?

But Catholic Black History is part of something much bigger

October is National Family History Month.

Did you know a majority stake in recently sold for $4.7 Billion?

This might be a good time to consider how and why. Certainly, the rise of the personal computer, the Internet, genealogical subscription services, and DNA testing have all fueled this interest.

We look because human beings are natural-born storytellers, and we want to know how our “once upon a time” fits into the narratives of our lives.  The Washington Post reports an upsurge in adoptees and others seeking their genetic kin. Libby Copeland offers insights in The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are,

Genealogy has a way of making abstract history real.  On All Saints and All Souls Day genealogies of both my mother and father fueled my prayer.

And of course, in the seeking, sometimes we find that the truth about our family’s history collides with family narratives.

Sometimes, from a DNA test, a woman discovers at the age of 51 that she is adopted. Or a man discovers that he is not of Sicilian descent, but sub-Saharan African — and then begins a journey into the past and into identity that may never end.

These stories are only the beginning of the journey. This era spells the end of family secrets. Many of us are faced with profound surprises about ourselves and our families. (Some are shocked by the people included in Jesus’ genealogy.)

African Americans, meanwhile, may be blocked from knowledge of the past by the paucity of records about their enslaved ancestors.

It is true some of us simply are not interested in knowing their history. There are also some who wish to ignore ignominious parts of their history. Being of German descent I am aware there is a significant number of Germans who try to block out the history of the holocaust and Nazism.

For those interested…

  • What do you know about your history?
  • Can you understand why some have a need to know more of their family history while others are afraid to learn more?

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk.

I flunked my Black Catholic History test
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