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Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Seminarians attend Mass honoring the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Ryan Eggenberger

Men and women from the city of Detroit, including many members of the Sacred Heart Major Seminary community, in addition to clergy, religious, laymen and women of the Archdiocese of Detroit, gathered at Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church on Monday, January 15, to celebrate Mass as the country honored the memory, work, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass was the Most Reverend Gerard Battersby, auxiliary bishop of Detroit, who was joined at the altar by concelebrating clergy from several Michigan dioceses. “Jesus Christ is the reason for our gathering today and every day,” Battersby remarked. “It’s in him and by his blood and in his holy name that we are brothers and sisters—that though different, and from different mothers—we have but one father, one faith, one baptism.” 

by Ryan Eggenberger

Bishop Battersby also stressed it is in the context of faith in Christ that Dr. King’s legacy is fully understood. “It may be initially jarring to be focusing on what we already confess, that is our faith in Jesus Christ, on this anniversary when we celebrate Dr. King’s life and ministry. But I would suggest this morning that if we are to understand Dr. King’s gift to our nation, we will only do so if we understand it in the context of faith in Jesus Christ.” 

Following the Mass, Leon Dixon, director of Black Catholic Ministry at the Archdiocese of Detroit, offered special remarks. He noted the change of location from the celebrations of previous years to the neighborhood near Ste. Anne’s was intentional. Emphasizing the racial diversity of the neighborhood, Dixon noted, “It is important that we stand with our brothers and sisters who are being marginalized today in our society.” 

Following Mr. Dixon’s remarks was an appeal given by Alex Taylor, a member of the Knights of Peter Claver and ambassador for the cause of the canonization of Fr. Augustus Tolton. Father Tolton is the first known African-American priest in the United States of America. Members in support of the cause believe Father Tolton’s own life and ministry, similar to that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s., is worthy of recognition by the Church.

Following the liturgical celebration, seminarians and members of the congregation gathered for a reception in the community center.

Ryan Eggenberger

Ryan Eggenberger is a graduate Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.