Revivalist Father Sidney Speaks addresses St. Benedict the Moor Church in Savannah June 26, night two of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry's 2018 Revival. Photograph by Jessica L. Marsala.

Annual Black Catholic Ministry three-day revival held

Originally Appeared in : 9814-7/5/18

SAVANNAH--Having lived in South since he was 18 years old, Father Sidney Speaks is not unfamiliar with its culture and customs nor with its tradition of Southern hospitality.


Yet what left the biggest impression on this priest, invited to be the guest speaker at the diocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry’s 2018 revival June 25-27, is how willingly locals in this “missionary-minded” diocese share their faith. 


“Their faith is not something that they hold: They have it, but they share it. And then that is warmth, hospitality, love, care – that’s genuine,” Father Speaks, the parochial vicar at St. Matthew the Apostle Church in River Ridge, Louisiana, said, also describing Georgia as having more of a “downhome-fruit, almost country-church feel.” “And I’ve been touched by that. That to me really screams out about Savannah.”


While addressing the host parishes of Sacred Heart, St. Benedict the Moor, and Resurrection of Our Lord – a different one each night of the revival – on the theme of “Follow me…through the broken,” Father Speaks reflected on how God used his own shortcomings, which led him to reconsider his call to the priesthood in 2008 and consider laicization.


 “Even the Church – she could be tattered and torn; sometimes she looks not so glorious and pretty, but the Lord says through that I will use you, and I find that’s what the Church has been: She’s been a vessel of God in spite of her own humanity, weakness, fallings,” Father Speaks told the Southern Cross June 26, after the night’s celebration had ended, of what he hoped parishioners learned from his witness. “It doesn’t matter. It’s the one true Church. It is the Lord. So thereby come away with realizing ‘Lord, you want to use me so thereby I want to say yes to that and be used.’” 


St. Benedict the Moor parishioner Adriene Perry said that she sensed the Holy Spirit quite prominently on night two of the revival, so much so that she fell to the ground, emotively asking God to intercede on behalf of one of her grandchildren who she said had fallen astray. 


“I didn’t move to the ground: It just knocked me down. See when you feel the Holy Spirit, you have no control,” Perry said. “It just pushes you down, and you just feel weak and you just know he got you. You know when you fall you’re not going to hurt yourself." 


Aside from Father Speak’s homilies, the 2018 revival also featured Scripture readings, praise and worship music performed by the choirs of Resurrection of our Lord and St. Benedict the Moor churches as well as a concluding Mass. 

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