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Archdiocese of Chicago Hosts 39th Annual African American Heritage Prayer Service

African American Heritage Awards to be presented to two educators and two students during the February 24 event at Holy Name Cathedral

Chicago, IL (February 22, 2017) – The Archdiocese of Chicago will host its 39th Annual African American Heritage Prayer Service on Friday, February 24 at 9:30 a.m. at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St. (between State and Superior) in Chicago. Rev. David Jones, Cardinal Cupich’s Liaison to the Black Catholic Initiative, and Dr. Jim Rigg, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, will join hundreds of students from across the Archdiocese for this Black History Month celebration. Additionally, Fr. Michael Trail, the fourteenth and newest African American priest ordained in Chicago, and Fr. George Clements, the second African American priest ordained in Chicago and diamond jubilarian, will participate in the prayer service.


"I was present when Mr. Bishop King created this event 39 years ago, and I am grateful to be a part of passing on this gift to the next generation of African American Catholics," said Rev. Jones.


The prayer service brings together students, administrators, parishes and clergy to share in honoring the rich history of black Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago. The theme of the prayer service this year is: Umoja (Unity): Worship From Our Roots. Student representatives from five Archdiocesan Catholic high schools – De La Salle Institute, Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, Holy Trinity High School, St. Ignatius College Prep and Marist High School – participated in the student planning committee for the prayer service.

“It is an honor to participate in this important celebration with our Catholic school students,” said Dr. Rigg. “In our Catholic schools we value our diversity – it makes us stronger, better. We stand in unity and solidarity with the African American population, which represents a vital part of our schools, city and region.”


At the prayer service, African American Heritage Awards will be presented to Mrs. Helen Dumas, principal of St. Sabina Academy (Chicago) and Dr. Denise Spells, principal of St. Ethelreda School (Chicago). Mrs. Dumas and Dr. Spells are strong African American women of faith who demonstrate visionary leadership, exemplary commitment and outstanding service to Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Additionally, Markel Anderson, a graduate of Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, and Jessica Booker, a senior at Holy Trinity High School, will receive Junior African American Heritage Awards during the prayer service. Markel and Jessica are role models to their peers by demonstrating the importance of celebrating faith and embracing prayer that reverences the rich and beautiful diversity of our Church and world.