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Second annual Juneteenth event provides 'Celebration of Unity'

News of the Diocese

June 20, 2024

Second annual Juneteenth event provides 'Celebration of Unity'
Second annual Juneteenth event provides 'Celebration of Unity'
Second annual Juneteenth event provides 'Celebration of Unity'
Second annual Juneteenth event provides 'Celebration of Unity'
Second annual Juneteenth event provides 'Celebration of Unity'

The hot and humid 19th of June didn’t dampen the 2024 Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom held at Glenview Park, E 110th St. in Cleveland.

Thanks to the great numbers of parishioners in attendance from St. Dominic Church and Our Lady of Peace, the second annual Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom was a diverse event with about 400 in attendance. Several parish priests and deacons also attended, along with the Parish Life Secretariat of the Diocese of Cleveland.

(See photo gallery above.)

The liturgy was inspired with music by the Diocesan Gospel Choir and praise groups from the community including St. Aloysius School. In addition, the dynamic homily of Fr. James Watson, Pastor of St. Agnes/Our Lady of Fatima Church, gave all in attendance a future challenge. His message focused on the goodness of being able to celebrate freedom, especially the ultimate freedom in Christ Jesus to love God and one another. All were challenged to let go of the negative things that enslave us.

After Mass, while children enjoyed playing water games and bouncing on inflatables, others enjoyed delicious food, desserts, snacks and of course, plenty of water and shade to stay safe from the heat.

The event was coordinated by the diocesan Office for Black Catholic Ministries. Sister Jane Nesmith, SBS, director of the office, said, “It’s so important to grasp that race, freedom and equality are to be celebrated by all of God’s children. History is what it is but the present and the future can be modified. The scriptural mandate to love God and one another can be expanded, can be more inclusive, can be more transforming through our Eucharistic Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Celebrations of any of our “God-Given” rights embraces all."

She added, “As I walked through the crowds that gathered, many people remarked about how they had been thanking God for the little breezes that were sweeping about. I would like to think of those breezes as the breath of God empowering us to pick up that challenge of love and to spread the Good News about our brotherhood and sisterhood in Jesus Christ. Our actions will speak that message more loudly and clearly than any words could ever say.”

The 2024 Juneteenth Event was sponsored by The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland in partnership with Catholic Charities who provided special give-away bags for everyone, along with meaningful information about the services they offer for Northeast Ohio communities. Other community booths included Public Utilities, Cleveland Public Water, Water Pollution Control, Cleveland Public Power and the Fire and Police Departments. Sponsoring parishes included: St. Adalbert/Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Spirit in Garfield Heights, St. Agnes/Our Lady of Fatima, St. Aloysius/St. Agatha, Our Lady of Peace, and St. Dominic.

Sister Jane was excited to see so many groups coming together. “In addition to the African American parishes and Catholic Charites, we are grateful to the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of Peter Claver as well as the Diocesan Gospel Choir and a combined group of liturgical dancers including those of St. Aloysius School. They all provide a broadening of the cultural aspects of worship in the Black community.”

About Juneteenth

Juneteenth, which became a national holiday in 2021, commemorates the day the last enslaved people in the former Confederacy were freed, June 19, 1865. It is celebrated on the anniversary of the order issued by Major Gen. Gordon Granger proclaiming freedom for all slaves in Texas, June 19, 1865. Since then, Juneteenth has been observed in various cities across the country marked with celebrations, guest speakers, the reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, picnics and family gatherings. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing but also a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future.

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