By Deacon Marvin Threatt

(SAN DIEGO) — I have been a deacon in the Catholic Church for nearly 40 years, after successful careers in the Navy and in education. I’m the longest serving African American deacon in the Diocese of San Diego, and one of the founders of the Diocesan Commission for African American Catholics.

There are about 3 million Black Catholics in the United States. In San Diego County, we live all over, though we’re concentrated in urban areas. Many of our community members attend St. Rita’s and Christ the King Parishes, where I serve.

Over the course of 40 years, our people have seen great changes in our Church. There was a time when we were excluded from participating fully in our faith. But through a process of raising awareness about our concerns, of raising our voices, we were heard. I have experienced these changes in our Church and in our relationship with fellow Catholics.

If we had not spoken up as a people, certainly we would not be in the state we are now, where we enjoy mutual inclusivity and participation as equal partners in the Church.

Let me share one example.

In the late seventies, one of