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Nation’s First Black Cardinal Speaks at Mass in Queens, NY

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Thalia Perez

CBSNewYork

NEW YORK — A Black History Month event took place at a Catholic church in Queens on Sunday, with the first African-American cardinal in the country.

It was standing room only at the Immaculate Conception Monastery Church in Jamaica Estates, CBS2’s Thalia Perez reported.

This year was special because Wilton Cardinal Gregory, the first African-American bishop to be elevated to the College of Cardinals within the Catholic Church, took part in the Mass.

“I am exhilarated to see and have an opportunity to be a part of history. History in the making and to fruition,” parishioner Barbara McFadden said.

McFadden said the last time she saw Gregory was at a faith and worship conference in 1987 and captured an image.

“Bishop Gregory was one of the speakers. This picture says so many things,” McFadden said. “We understood why we celebrated God in a particular way, and so this is a memorable day for me.”

Cardinal Gregory was appointed by Pope Francis as the seventh archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington in 2019. He is the chancellor of the Catholic University of America, and has previously served as the chairman of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. In 2020, he was elevated to the rank of cardinal.

Sunday’s mass was a joint celebration with the Diocese of Rockville Centre and the diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.

“I love the way he elevated us by challenging us to look to God, to become more like God,” said Bishop Robert Brennan of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Gregory delivered the homily.

“Black History Month is an opportunity for our entire country to recognize the blessings that people of color have offered and continue to offer to these United States. We are a gift to this country,” Gregory said.

“I am very grateful to be in this moment with people that I love and care about and to be in the presence of this wonderful cardinal,” said Joseph Murray, an administrative assistant for The Brooklyn Vicariate for Black Catholic Concerns.