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Archdiocese of Chicago to Celebrate its 43rd Annual African American Heritage Prayer Service Virtually

Due to COVID-19, archdiocesan Catholic schools will gather online for four weekly virtual prayer services to honor African American heritage, culture, community and contributions to the Catholic Church.
Chicago, (Feb. 1, 2021) – The Archdiocese of Chicago will celebrate the 43rd Annual African American Heritage Prayer Service virtually throughout February in a series of prayer service videos every Friday at 10 a.m. Due to the pandemic, Catholic schools around the archdiocese will gather online to pray and celebrate African American heritage, culture, community and contributions to the Church. The theme for this year’s prayer services is We Are Called: Umoja for Black Lives, Justice, and Peace. A link to each prayer service can be found on the archdiocese’s YouTube channel.
“We look forward to celebrating the rich heritage and contributions of African Americans who make up our Church family,” said Dr. Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools. “Even though we are unable to gather in person due to the pandemic, we will join online to uplift and affirm the gifts the African American community bring to our Catholic community and greater Chicago.”
Each prayer service has been prerecorded and prepared for schools to share with their in-person and remote learners and includes singing, spoken word, scripture, prayer and preaching. Every video will be accompanied by classroom instructional resources for continued dialogue about Black history and Catholic culture with an emphasis on the following subthemes: We Are Called!, We Are United!, We Are Proud! and We Can Make a Difference! 
During the service on Friday, Feb. 26, the African American Heritage Awards will be presented to the following outstanding individuals: 
  • Rev. Tom Walsh, pastor of St. Martin de Porres Church on Chicago’s West Side, will receive the Clergy Award.
  • Janice Summerrise, business manager at St. Ann School in Lansing, will receive the Lay Leader Award.
  • Karen Brodzik, principal of Christ Our Savior School in South Holland, will receive the Elementary Educator Award.
  • Tracy Aldaz, counselor at De La Salle Institute in Chicago, will receive the High School Educator Award. 
  • Jadyn Thomas, an eighth-grader at Infant Jesus of Prague School in Flossmoor, will receive the Elementary Student Award.
  • Lee Vonn Overton, a junior at De La Salle Institute, will receive the High School Student Award.