By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
With calls for peace, justice and love, the Archdiocese of Louisville hosted the 30th annual Archdiocesan Community Wide Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Jan. 19 at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth Street.
Paul Evans read the “Call to Worship” and noted that the day is a national day of observance in honor of the birth of the Rev. King.
“We come to remind ourselves that nonviolence is the only way. We come to celebrate this day with holy prayer,” he said.
Capuchin Franciscan Friar Robert Marva from the Diocese of Cleveland gave a homily that appeared to move the congregation as he recalled tragic events at home and abroad since his last visit to the Archdiocese of Louisville.
He called his listeners to consider the “questionable deaths” of six African-American males — Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, John Crawford III, Michael Brown Jr., Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.
“We find ourselves today maybe wondering what’s next? When we ask such questions however, we might be tempted to think … what will go wrong next? Who will get hurt next? Who will die next?” he said.
Friar Marva said the very reason people gathered at the cathedral for the celebration marking the anniversary of Rev. King’s birth was to remember the man who faced similar fears but who refused to give up on the belief that “humanity is good because God is good.”
“If that goodness, if that peace is with us … then the world, and indeed our whole human family, will also be transformed,” the friar said. “That’s what he believed; that’s what he gave his life for. That is the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that we celebrate today.”
Rev. King reminds us, Friar Marva said, that injustice done to anyone, anywhere is injustice done to everyone, everywhere.
“Our challenge today is not to become indifferent to the sufferings of those around us,” he said.
Friar Marva said the Rev. King knew that one of the greatest challenges to living the Gospel was not hatred but apathy — “good people doing nothing.”
“When there is no care or concern, there is a vacuum that begs to be filled. Whether it is with good or with evil, that vacuum will be filled, sisters and brothers. Dr. King’s mission was to fill that vacuum with … peaceful protest and nonviolent resistance,” he said.
Love, he said, is the invitation to “active resistance against hatred and the remedy to all that is evil in our world.”
The ongoing perception that a “black male of any age wearing a hoodie” is a threat must be challenged. What also must be challenged, he said, is the perception that all police are a threat. This must be countered by stories of officers who give their lives to protect all those who come in harm’s way, he said.
Friar Marva conceded that there are problems, but these problems are not simply with the police or public institutions.
“They also sit with us as parents, grandparents, as brothers and sisters, teachers, as pastor,” he said. “We must take our share of the credit and our share of the blame for what is happening to our families and in our communities.”
In a statement issued Jan. 16, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed “gratitude for Rev. King’s work and the efforts of so many others on behalf of justice and to advance ‘our country’s recognition of the dignity and quality of each person,’ ” according to a story from Catholic News Service.
“As we consider the gains of the past and the challenges before us, I urge each of us to pray for healing and peace as we work for ever greater communion. Every human life has profound dignity, rooted in our creation in the image of God. We are one family,” he said.
The celebration at the cathedral featured music by the Archdiocesan Gospel Choir, the St. Francis of Assisi School Orff Ensemble and the Catholic Enrichment Center Women Drummers.
The theme of the event was “Break Every Chain.” It was sponsored by the archdiocese’s Office of Multicultural Ministry and received support from the Catholic Services Appeal.