Enduring Faith is an ninety-minute documentary that examines the struggle to establish an African American clergy in the American Catholic Church. The story is viewed through the prism of the Josephite Society, and English missionary group that came to America in 1871 to evangelize and convert the recently emancipated slaves. As the Catholic Church's only mission dedicated solely to African Americans, the Josephites operated on the fringes of the institution throughout the majority of their turbulent and often controversial history.
Enduring Faith brings to light a story little known and rarely discussed. It tells of the courage and ultimate despair of early black Josephite priests and the pivotal role of Rome in forcing the American Church to open its doors to blacks. It also brings to the forefront the Josephite's undying efforts to bring Catholicism to African Americans and the unwavering stance of African American Catholics who clung tenaciously to their faith through trying times.
Enduring Faith, produced by Daybreak TV Productions of the Diocese of Buffalo, received major funding from the Catholic Communication Campaign of the United States Catholic Conference. The program is being distributed by American Public Television and will air on PBS affiliates nationwide.
Beverly Carroll, Executive Director of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for African American Catholics, stated, “Enduring Faith does not shield viewers from the intensity of the racism and animosity these men faced. You feel the chills going up and down your spine as you hear the words of early Josephite Fathers.”
Enduring Faith is narrated by Andre Braugher, lead actor in the ABC-TV drama series Gideon's Crossing.
Andre Braugher stated, I've always found the spiritual struggle of black Catholics to be a fascinating one, but I never knew the breadth and depth of their history in America until I became involved in this project." He went on to say, "It sharpens for me the debt of gratitude that today's black Catholics owe to what are in essence the pioneers of black Catholicism."
Enduring Faith hosted two premieres. The west coast premiere was held at the City of Angels Film Festival in Los Angeles.
Bishop Henry J. Mansell, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York, introduced Enduring Faith at the east coast premiere in the studios of WNED-TV, PBS Affiliate in Buffalo. “You will see these were very difficult days,” he said. “It expresses and shows the tremendous struggles of black people in the early days. (This is) a story that's difficult to absorb.”
Don Boswell, president, PBS station, WNED-TV, Buffalo, New York stated, “Enduring Faith is a wonderful example of one of the little known stories of the struggle of black Americans to practice their faith. Daybreak TV Productions has provided a glimpse into this previously unexplored area of black history. I am pleased that this excellent documentary is now being made available nation-wide.”
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