St. Martin de Porres Society: Building unity through diversity

Contributed
Jim Collins, secretary of the St. Martin de Porres Society of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, portrays the saint during Vacation Bible School at the cathedral in this file photo.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

St. Martin de Porres, whose feast day we celebrated Nov. 3, is the patron saint of race relations, African Americans and social justice, among other things. Thirty-five years ago, parishioners of Sacred Heart Cathedral, along with the late Father Marvin Mottet, formed the St. Martin de Porres Society as a social action arm of the parish.

On Dec. 3, Thomas Mason IV, St. Martin de Porres Society’s president, will talk about the history and role of the society during the Lunch and Learn session of the Diocese of Davenport’s Social Action Office. The event will take place at noon via Zoom video conference (link to join meeting on smartphone, tablet or computer: http://bit.ly/DioDavLunchLearn).

As a point-up to the event, Mason and Jim Collins, the society’s secretary, shared information with The Catholic Messenger about the St. Martin de Porres Society.

The society’s mission is “to help all understand that Black Catholics bring to the church a rich legacy, to promote/evangelize the Catholic Church among the unchurched in our community, teach the richness of cultural diversity in our parish, diocese, community and the world, and to present role models and icons representing our diverse cultures.”

Members strive to achieve this mission by giving of their time, talents and treasure to plan, implement and carry out programs and service in realization of parish, neighborhood and community goals. “We actively support many parish and community ministries and projects,” the two men said.

The St. Martin de Porres Society strives to foster understanding of racial and cultural differences and through that effort to find unity. “Towards that end, we have provided Black History Month presentations at our parish school, All Saints Catholic in Davenport, for eight years. We have presented at our parish ministry fair and, in 2019, the society at Sacred Heart Cathedral hosted the (Davenport) Community Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the cathedral’s Sears Diocesan Hall.

To continue the discussion, a tour group went to the African American Museum of Iowa in November (Black Catholic History Month) to learn more about Black history in our region.

Members of the St. Martin de Porres Society meet the second Sunday of each month at 10 a.m. in the lower-level conference room of the Sears Diocesan Hall. The society has about 25 members; usually eight to 10 members participate in the meetings.


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