Racial Justice Sunday is the day the church focuses on the need to oppose racism and pursue racial justice with renewed vigour. The theme this year was ‘Seeing one another in the life of the Church’.
There is something uniquely moving when people of many races, nationalities, communities and schools gather together as one, especially when that gathering is to worship God in Holy Mass on Racial Justice Sunday. That is how St George's Cathedral came to be so joyfully filled on this vitally important date in the liturgical calendar on 28th January 2024.
Some came attired in their national costume, creating a stunning visual display of colour or came waving flags from their ancestral homelands. Various communities carried banners aloft during the opening procession of the Mass at which the Principal Celebrant was Archbishop John Wilson. Concelebrants included Canon Victor Darlington, Episcopal Vicar for the Commission for Promoting Racial and Cultural Inclusion in the Archdiocese of Southwark and the Dean of St George's Cathedral, Canon Michael Branch.
Two African school-children very ably gave the first and second readings, the Gospel was read by a Filipino Deacon and those offering the bidding prayer read each intercession in their own language including Goan, Igbo, Japanese, Yoruba and Tagalog.
The gloriously joyful Ave Maria Choir from Ghana sang hymns of praise in their unique style during the service, (interspersed with singing from the sublime Cathedral Choir).
Archbishop John Wilson held nothing back in his powerful Homily when he said:
"I want to make it absolutely clear that in our church and in our society, in our nation and in our world, there is no place for racism. Never. Ever. No matter what."
He went on to say "We will never meet anyone that God does not already love". Each member of the congregation was then asked to turn to the person next to them and say "I see in you the face of Christ". It was a deeply moving moment that served to unify all present.
Archbishop John concluded by saying
"We are, and we must be, prophets of justice, who refuse to remain static or silenced in the face of discrimination. We are, and must be, prophets of hope who dream of, and work to achieve, the celebration of our beautiful shared identity as one family of humankind united in love. I will raise up a prophet and I will put my words into his mouth. That prophet my brothers and sisters is you and me."
People were also invited to leave their contact details to subscribe to the Commission for Promoting Racial and Cultural Inclusion's bi-monthly newsletter. This option is available to all; please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
After the Mass all were invited to partake of refreshments in Amigo Hall where again, those present were treated to the singing (and dancing) of the Ave Maria Choir - it was impossible to listen to without smiling as well as feeling your feet and hips move along with the rhythm!