His Eminence Wilton Cardinal Gregory, Archbishop of Washington D.C paid a visit to the Immaculate Conception Monastery Church located at 86-45 Edgerton Boulevard in the Jamaica Estates section of Queens, where he led the Mass of Thanksgiving on Feb. 20.
Cardinal Gregory is the first African-American bishop to be elevated to the esteemed College of the Cardinals within the Catholic Church, when he was appointed by His Holiness Pope Francis in April of 2019.
The Cardinal was also the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass and was joined in celebration by bishop Brennan, Bishop Barres and Auxiliary Bishops and priests of both the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Center.
Sponsored by the Brooklyn Vicariate for Black Catholic Concerns and The Office of Multicultural Diversity for the Diocese of Rockville Center, the Black History Month cultural celebrations took place prior to the Mass of Thanksgiving.
“Today we celebrate in prayer the contributions of Black People to our homeland,” said Cardinal Gregory. “However, this is also a moment for all Americans from every culture and race to appreciate the gifts that Black People have offered to our nation. It is also a time for nation-building and for strengthening the bonds that tie us together as one people. Americans everywhere should rejoice this African-American Heritage Month in a legacy of unity that promises a better tomorrow for everyone who claims this land as their home. It is an occasion for us not only to thank God for the gifts of people of color but to thank God for the possibility that we have become one people.”
Cardinal Gregory became an ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 9, 1973 and was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago in 1983. On Feb. 10, 1994 Gregory was installed as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois. On Jan. 17, 2005, he was installed as the sixth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
The Cardinal also serves as the Chancellor of The Catholic University of America, is Chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and previously has served as the Chairman of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.
The rights and protections of Black individuals in our country is a cause that the Cardinal is extremely passionate about. Following the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, Cardinal Gregory was an outspoken advocate for Black rights and protections, even going so far to appeal to the Pope. In his address Sunday, Gregory reiterated his commitment to the Black community;
“Black History Month is an opportunity for our entire country to recognize the blessings that People of Color have offered and continue to impart to these United States,” Cardinal Gregory preached during his homily. “We are a gift to this country.”