This story has been reprinted with permission from the Fairfield County Catholic newspaper of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Father Reginald Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Wilton, has been elected president of the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators (NABCA). Headquartered in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., NABCA provides a forum for Black Catholic leaders to address the needs and concerns of the communities they serve.
Father Norman was named as the Diocese of Bridgeport’s episcopal vicar for Black Catholics under then-Bishop William E. Lori, and has served in that role since the early 2000s. It was through this appointment that Father Norman first learned of and became involved with NABCA.
Although Father Norman had been involved with NABCA for quite some time, being elected as the organization’s president came as a complete surprise to him.
“I was actually scheduled to run the election,” Father Norman said. “I got a few nominations and I thought nothing of it, because when we go to our actual meeting, we also take nominations from the floor. When we got there, we went to get the nominations from the floor and there (were) none. Someone said, ‘I move to close nominations,’ and lo and behold, I am the president.”
As president of NABCA, it will be Father Norman’s job to lead the organization, run the organization’s meetings and promote the unique beauty and gifts of the Black Catholic community.
When situations of injustice arise it will also be Father Norman’s job to author and issue statements on those events, as well as collaborate with Church leaders across the country to address those issues.
“One of our mottos is ‘Justice delayed is justice denied,’” he said. “In our Catholic Church, we always speak about respecting life from conception until natural death, which is great. We’ve done the bookends well, but sometimes we forget about the people in the middle.”
While Father Norman’s new role will be on the national stage, he has been doing similar work in the Diocese of Bridgeport for many years. He sees his work as president of NABCA and as the Diocese’s episcopal vicar for Black Catholics as two roles that go hand in hand.
Part of that role will be recognizing and celebrating the different pockets of believers and the different and unique ways in which they worship. And part of that intersection comes with celebrating events of particular significance to Black Catholics.
“There are Black saints and Black holidays,” Father Norman said. “We’ll celebrate Black History Month, we’ll celebrate Dr. King, Juneteenth, all of those things because they’re important to us. As history may not have treated us well, our job is to make sure we get treated better as we go forward, and that we’re inclusive.”
There are many ways to affect and promote change in the way marginalized groups are treated. And part of what Father Norman admires about NABCA is its presence in places of power that might be able to usher in that change.
“We’re not out there picketing things; we’d rather be at the board room or in the offices, changing things and making people aware in a loving and inclusive way,” he said. “It’s not us versus them, it’s we together.”