Encountering the Universal Church

On the final leg of the Wichita YMCA Triathlon Cup series, Sunday morning brought the last of my six sprint triathlons. I investigated masses in town that would accommodate my 9:30 am heat start time. Based on location and mass time, I attended Holy Savior, the parish known for its outreach to African Americans located in the heart of the black neighborhood in town.

Low-key and quick describe previous morning Sunday masses I’ve attended. So, when I walked into Holy Savior and saw in the front of the church the nearly eight to ten musicians and singers dressed to the nine, I knew something would be different.

Years ago I had attended Holy Savior seeing a higher percentage of Caucasian attendees, but I could tell the African American community was making the parish their own, sprouting with leaders. Warmth permeated the liturgy with opportunities for personal connection in the pews.

Walking towards the backdrop of the tastefully done religious art and crucifix with figures with darker skin, friendly parishioners personally greeted me. Father Billinger welcomed his flock.

The music was phenomenally uplifting, with confident African American flair. They sang everything! No “amen” escaped their melody. The lectors proclaimed the word with just the right inflection, energy, and silence to make the readings come alive. Father’s sermon highlighted the cause for sainthood being made for Julia Greeley of Denver, who if canonized would become the first black American woman saint.

I love, love, love being in a Church that is centered on the Eucharist and is for everyone, regardless of your nation, your color, or your culture.

In my next blog, you’ll see what happens when cultures clash.

Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Attend mass at a parish different from your own.