“We believe that another world is possible, and that education is a fundamental force in building it.”

Declaration #12, Declaration on the Lasallian Educational Mission: Challenges, Convictions, and Hopes, Generalate, Rome, 2020, p. 122. 



June 14 – July 16

Learn more about God’s gift of blackness
to church and society and how you can promote racial justice.

The faculty, staff, and administrators of DENA schools, youth and family services agencies, higher education, and other centers of education are invited to consider participating in a one, two, or three-week online program.

The District of Eastern North America, through the DENA Racial Justice Coalition, is providing this opportunity as one of a number of efforts to:

  1. Support Lasallians throughout the schools and other educational ministries within DENA in their efforts to be more professionally educated with an understanding and appreciation of African Americans’ contributions to Christian faith, life, and witness, as well as to society writ large
  2. Increase access and opportunities for all Lasallians to participate in Association/Formation programs (part of DENA Strategic Plan for Association/Formation)
  3. Invite Lasallians to consider this question: Do I want to learn more about God’s gift of Blackness to the Church and society and to further promote racial justice and God’s plan to redeem the world?

Goals of this initiative

    1. To deepen and advance understanding and appreciation of African Americans’ contributions to Christian faith, life, and witness, as well as to society writ large
    2. To consider the intersection with the Lasallian charism and our educational ministry and, in turn,
    3. To assist DENA Lasallians as well as DENA ministries to do the same.

Participants can earn graduate-level credits (that may be applied to a Masters degree) and Continuing Education Units (CEU) through online courses offered by both the Institute for Black Catholic Studies (IBCS) at Xavier University (New Orleans, Louisiana) and the Black Theology and Ministry (BTM) at Catholic Theological Union (Chicago, Illinois). You will also participate in a DENA cohort debrief and planning online virtual session to be held Monday, August 2, 9:00-11:30am EDT.

Description of Benefits Requirement

As part of the application form, and a significant aspect to be considered by the Review Committee in determining to whom DENA funding will be awarded to cover tuition and fees at Xavier University or the Catholic Theological Union, applicants for this summer program are expected to describe how their participation will benefit themselves, their own educational ministry/work, and others throughout DENA.

With our shared passion, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we believe that we will make our world better for the long haul. “We believe in the transforming capacity of education” (Declaration #8, Generalate, Rome, 2020, p. 120).
“Racism has been with us for centuries but we have the capability of working together to ensure that it does not persist beyond this decade! …eradicating racism and promoting justice will take constant effort on the part of all of us.”Brother Visitor’s letter regarding racial justice

Application Process

The DENA budget will cover all tuition and fees for this program. Applicants must secure a letter of approval from their chief administrator which confirms that the school/ministry will cover expenses for books.

Application Guidelines

  1. Applicants must be a member of the faculty, staff, or administration of a DENA educational ministry.
  2. The online application must be completed as soon as possible, and not later than noon on Monday, April 12, 2021.
  3. The applicant must indicate the specific week(s) and course(s) in which they plan to enroll. NOTE: Once a DENA grant application is awarded, the DENA grant recipient is responsible for completing the application process with Xavier University and Catholic Theological Union.
  4. The applicant must indicate how participation in this Summer 2021 program of study will be of benefit to themselves, their ministry/work, and others throughout DENA.
  5. Applicants must provide a letter of support from their chief administrator confirming that the school/ministry will cover expenses for books.

Selection Criteria

  1. Preference will be given to those applications that strongly demonstrate how the proposed study will be of benefit to not only one’s current place of ministry/work but also to those in other DENA ministries as well.
  2. Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received and the number of awards is limited to the allocated budget.

Course Information

Graduate Courses

All times listed EDT

Caste, Race and the Catholic Church: Implications for Spirituality and Ministry

5 meeting sessions
Monday – Friday, June 14-18
1.5 graduate credits awarded by Catholic Theological Union (CTU)

Vanessa White, D.Min., D Associate Professor of Spirituality and Ministry, Catholic Theological Union
Using the books Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (Isabel Wilkerson) and Racial Justice and the Catholic Church (Bryan Massingale) as frameworks, this course will address the over 400 years of the system of caste and racism in the United States and specifically focusing on the Catholic Church. The hope is that this course will provide a place to have honest conversations and participants will gain insight for the anti-racist work that we are all called to be engaged.

Black Approaches to Theology

16 meeting sessions
Each weekday from Friday, June 25 – Friday, July 16
3.0 graduate credits awarded by the Institute for Black Catholic Studies (IBCS) at Xavier University of New Orleans

Craig A. Ford, Jr., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Saint Norbert College
This course stresses the nature, methods and sources of Black Theology; the reasons justifying its existence and its relationship to other theologians within the Roman Catholic Tradition.

Continuing Education Courses

from the Institute for Black Studies at Xavier University

Participants are eligible for a maximum of one (1) course per week, 1.5 CEUs for each course. (These are professional development courses, not graduate credits). All times listed Monday – Friday EDT

Week 1

June 28 – July 2

An Introduction to Black Church Studies
M-F | 9:45am-12:45pm
This review of the Black Church as it emerged within slavery (with African influences) through the Civil War and after to the present day will reveal the significant role these churches play in the preservation and transformation of African peoples to African Americans, and how they served as both refuges and sites of rebellion. Diana Hayes, Ph.D.

The Gift of Black Catholic Worship
M-F | 9:45am-12:45pm
St. John Paul II affirmed that the Church needs the gift of Blackness (1987). This gift is profoundly expressed, celebrated and nurtured in and through liturgy. We will examine the four pillars of African American Catholic worship: Preaching, Music, Environment and Community; and how the Black Catholic community can enhance the mission of the Church in all communities. Fr. Manuel Williams, CR, Th.M.

African American Spirituality
M-F | 2:45-5:45pm
This course offers a survey of African American spirituality; namely, from its origin during slavery through its evolution during the Civil War, the Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movements. The course will follow the manifestations of this spirituality in music and in the Black Church, Catholic and Protestant traditions alike. Cary W. Dabney, Ph.D.Cand.

Black Psychology: Black Life Matters
M-F | 2:45-5:45pm
This course will approach the study of human behavior within the social context of the Black community to explore spiritual, cultural and pastoral resources available to strengthen the Christian faithful to address psychological challenges to Black Life. Fr. Roy A. Lee, Ph.D.

Week 2

July 5 – July 9

“Keep It Real”: Working with Today’s Black Youth
M-F | 9:45am-12:45pm
This course presents a vibrant approach to youth ministry: it highlights the need to meaningfully acknowledge and engage the unique experiences of black youth, as well as the distinct gifts of insight and inquiry they bring to the faith community. It offers practical insights to accompany and mentor these Black believers at this critical time in their faith journey. Valerie Shields, M.A.R.S.

The Mission of Discipleship – Lay Leaders in 21st Century
M-F | 9:45am-12:45pm
This course is designed to develop leadership skills in potential lay ministry leaders and enhance ministry skills in current parish lay ministers. The course will provide a familiarity with the various elements of the Church’s hierarchy and parish administrative processes, including goal setting and achieving, human relations, and group dynamics. Cary W. Dabney, Ph.D.Cand.

Faith in Action: Catholic Support for BLM and Anti-Racism
M-F | 2:45-5:45pm
This course will explore the serious psychological and spiritual harm caused by racism and ongoing racial stress. It will highlight the appropriateness and urgency of the church engaging in the Black Lives Matter Movement. And, this course will explore practical strategies for doing it! Eva Marie Lumas, SSS, D.Min.

The “Present Presence” of Young Adults in Our Church
M-F | 2:45-5:45pm
Labeling young adults as the “future” of our Church can be misleading, potentially lulling communities into a crippling apathy in ministering to 18 to 39 years-old. This course affirms the present faith-filled insight and giftedness of young adults, and explores ways to engage them now, including inviting them to ministerial leadership within our faith communities. Ashley Morris, Th.M.

Week 3

July 12 – July 16

Moving Beyond “Us and Them”
M-F | 9:45am-12:45pm
This interdisciplinary seminar is designed to discuss black cultural representation(s) emerging from the complex relations among people of African descent. We will critically explore and interrogate black people’s experience of racial colonialization and slavery in order to grasp its impact on cultural identification, and its implication for the future of black Catholicism in the USA. Rev. Kwame Assenyoh, Ph.D.Cand.

Women and the Principle of Ujima: Development and Preservation of Community
M-F | 9:45am-12:45pm
The third principle of Kwanzaa, Ujima, exalts the collective work and responsibility of community building. We will examine the principles and foundations of historical Black women’s civic, social and church groups to inform our efforts to create and sustain women’s groups that nurture the noble strivings of the many communities to which these women belonged. Heather Malveaux, M.P.H., M.P.S.

Africentric Catechesis/Religious Education for These Times
M-F | 2:45-5:45pm
This course will facilitate the development of Catechetical/Religious Education goals, objectives, strategies, and resources capable of fostering “mature faith” within the African American community. We will explore “mature faith” as an ongoing process that raises disciple-citizens committed to honoring everyone’s dignity, inviting everyone’s giftedness, creating right relationships and promoting the common good. Caleb Buchanan, Th.M.

Apply Now

Questions & Additional Information

For more information, please contact Maryann Donohue-Lynch donohuelynch@fscdena.org

DENA Racial Justice Coalition Coordinating Committee

Brother Jack Curran, FSC – Manhattan College | jack.curran@manhattan.edu
Maryann Donohue-Lynch – District of Eastern North America | donohuelynch@fscdena.org
Brother Ernest Miller, FSC – La Salle University | miller95@lasalle.edu
Marta Rhea-Johnson – De La Salle Collegiate | mrhea-johnson@delasallehs.com