Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the slain civil rights leader who led a non-violent movement against racism, was remembered at a Jan. 14 Mass as a “prophet” whom today’s faithful are called to imitate.
“It is a bold and daring thing to celebrate a prophet,” said Father Patrick Smith, pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Washington. “And we know the best form of admiration is imitation. “
Father Smith was the homilist of the annual Mass honoring the legacy of Dr. King. About 250 people attended the Mass that was offered at St. Thomas More Parish in Washington and sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach.
Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville was the principal celebrant of the Mass. In addition to Father Smith, concelebrants included Father Raymond Moore of St. Thomas More Parish, and Msgr. Raymond East of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Washington.
“God gave King something so critical, so hope-inducing. He gave him a vision – God’s vision of what could be and King believed the vision,” Father Smith said. “What God showed him (Dr. King) was more real than the prejudices and injustices going on in the world.”
Father Smith said that vision is what propelled the civil rights leader to continue his struggle.
“It was the vision that God gave King that fueled his resolve,” the priest said. “King believed God would do what God could do. He was confident God would do His part.”
Father Smith said that while Dr. King’s relied on his faith to sustain him in his work, many Christians today do not have that same sense of faith.
“Do we make a compelling case that God is a wonderful savior …. Not always,” Father Smith said. He also lamented that Christians “have the cure, but do not take the medication” when it comes to addressing rampant racism, unemployment and other ills facing society.
Paraphrasing a famous quote from Dr. King, Father Smith said, “a person who has nothing to die for, has no reason to live.” Noting Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Father Smith said, “Martin Luther King was not a dreamer – he was a doer, a man of action.”
Recalling another famous quote of Dr. King – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” – Father Smith reminded those at the Mass that “this time is your time and my time to shine and show God’s glory.”
Prior to the Mass, the Archdiocese of Washington Mass Gospel Choir performed a concert honoring Dr. King and African saints. The concert and Mass were part of the archdiocese’s celebration of National Migration Week.
Father Moore called the annual concert and Mass “a powerful and special event.”
During the Mass, prayers were offered for migrants, refugees, those who suffer, Church leaders and government leaders. Bishop Dorsonville called the Mass “a time to reflect and be grateful to the Lord for His gifts of hope and love, which we are called to share in this world.”
At the end of the Mass, four students in the Archdiocese of Washington were recognized as the winners in the annual essay contest honoring the legacy of Dr. King. This year, the winning students were: first place winner Catalina Scheider Galinanes from St. Bernadette School in Silver Spring; second place winner Grace Stanton from St. Bernadette School in Silver Spring; third place winner JoJo Draddy from St. Bernadette School in Silver Spring; and fourth place winner Malaika Lewis from St. Peter School in Waldorf.