Saint Mary's College Presents Soulful and Sacred: Celebrating the Black Catholic Experience

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Celebrate the joyful sounds of African American Catholic gospel music and worship traditions in the Saint Mary’s College January Term cultural celebration Soulful and Sacred: Celebrating the Black Catholic Experience.

This special January Term program, which is free and open to the public, features a concert by Oakland’s St. Columba Catholic Church Gospel Choir, which is directed by one of the nation’s preeminent African American Catholic composers Rawn Harbor.  


Rawn HarborFr. Edward BranchAdditionally, distinguished guest speaker Rev. Edward Branch, the Catholic chaplain for the Lyke House at the Atlanta University Center (AUC), a consortium of historically black colleges, will lecture about the distinctive journey of African American Catholics as part of the Jan Term Speaker Series.


Soulful and Sacred: Celebrating the Black Catholic Experience recognizes the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Saint Mary’s commitment to an inclusive campus community and the College’s sesquicentennial year.

The evening's programming also includes a reception to honor Saint Mary’s African American alumni and the contributions of Saint Mary’s benefactor and San Francisco abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant.

Program Schedule

5:30 p.m. Father Edward Branch lectures on “Black Catholic Voices” (Soda Center)

6:30 p.m. Reception honoring Saint Mary’s African American alumni (Soda Center)

7:30 p.m. St. Columba Catholic Church Gospel Choir Concert (College Chapel) 

Background: January Term, or Jan Term for short, is an intensive four-week academic experience at Saint Mary’s College where students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, explore new intellectual territory and take classes that embody the Lasallian tradition of social action. A hallmark of the session is the Speaker Series, which brings provocative speakers from the worlds of art, politics, science and technology to the campus. During the day visiting speakers meet with several classes, engage in lively roundtable discussions with students and present their ideas to the entire community at a free public lecture in the evening. 

Soulful and Sacred: Celebrating the Black Catholic Experience is co-sponsored by the Office of Mission and the College's Committee for Inclusive Excellence.


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