Eric Wilson and Teresa Mugeni, Melanie Martin, and Leon Cooke participated in the 17th annual diocesan African Ancestry Ministry & Evangelization (AAMEN) retreat June 17—19 at the Avila Retreat Center in Durham. The purpose of the annual retreat is to keep parish leaders of African descent informed about relevant events occurring in the Diocese and in the local parishes and for the leaders to discuss the needs of those to whom they minister. The retreat consisted of several talks by retreat master Fr. Marcos Leon-Angulo, Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Whiteville and Dean of the Cape Fear Deanery. Retreatants heard several presentations on subjects like African American Spirituality, the Person of Jesus and The Challenge of Evangelization. With the talks, the retreatrants also had had social time, meditation, and mass. The theme of the retreat was “Honoring the Past by Building for the Future.”
For Ms. Wilena McPhatter, one of the organizers of the retreat, the high point of the weekend was Father Marcos’ presentation of the ministry’s new Pastoral Plan. “The Plan will enable those who don’t know what AAMEN is all about to understand why it exists and why we need AAMEN chapters in all our individual Parishes,” Ms. McPhatter said. “We had quite a few people who had never been to one of our retreats, and they came away very enlightened. All in all, I think the weekend was a great success and will be a great boost to our Ministry.”
St. Francis parishioner and local AAMEN chaper leader Leon Cooke felt the retreat “was a wonderful way for us as African/African Americans to delve into our spirituality and how it enchances our living out our Catholic faith.” Teresa Mugeni felt inspired to action through this retreat, saying “It’s not about the umbrella AAMEN that we fall under but as an individual what can I do to be there and spread the word through my actions…drawing more people towards Christ.” Her husband Eric Wilson also particiapted in the retreat. Parishioners alike named how peaceful the setting and gracious the hospitality of Avila Retreat Center as well.
The Diocesan chapter of AAMEN was established by the Diocese of Raleigh to foster the mission of the Roman Catholic Church, spread the Gospel, celebrate the Sacraments, and form a faith community. The ministry seeks to create an atmosphere in which individuals of African descent can maintain their identity, heighten their visibility, and enhance their lives as Catholics. It is concerned with nurturing those in the faith, reconciling those fallen away from the faith, and offering a church home to the unchurched through conversion to the Catholic faith.
Our St. Francis of Assisi AAMEN ministry arose from our parish’s diversity initiative to be more welcoming and engaging to all parishioners, no matter what the differences. While this ministry is mainly for parishioners of African descent, it is open to all who wish to learn more about church life and spirituality from an African ancestry perspective. If interested in learning more or joining this ministry, contact Leon Cooke at 740-7515 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org