Catholic Sentinel photo by Jon DeBellis
Clariner Boston, Rosetta Schuster and Teletha Benjamin prepare to adorn the altar with African colors at the annual Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Mass.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Jon DeBellis
Clariner Boston, Rosetta Schuster and Teletha Benjamin prepare to adorn the altar with African colors at the annual Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Mass.

More than 200 people gathered for a Mass at St. Mary Cathedral in Northwest Portland Saturday night to remember a man Archbishop Alexander Sample called in his homily, " a prophetic voice."

The 21st annual Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Mass was held here, sponsored by the African American Catholic Community of Oregon and the Ladies of St. Peter Claver.

The Mass highlights Rev. King’s message of inalienable human dignity, but also brings Afro-centric culture and traditions into Portland’s Catholic community, say organizers.

"For years we held the Mass in our own churches, but having this memorial Mass here at the Cathedral not only helps us recall the legacy of Dr. King, but helps us evangelize to others about the presence of the African-American Catholic community," said Emma Jackson Ford, a member of the AACCO.

Archbishop Sample, who celebrated the Mass, described the late Rev. King as someone God "raised up as a prophetic voice for our time."

“Dr. King had the ability and the power to inspire in the hearts of many a response to a call for justice," said Archbishop Sample. "One of the greatest legacies Dr. King leaves us is his recognition of the dignity of every human person."

The archbishop told Mass goers that they too are called to be prophetic voices.

A Baptist minister and the son of a Baptist minister, Rev. King became a leader of the civil rights movement in the 1950s. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

The Mass, which began in 1989 (there was no Mass for four years), began under Archbishop William Levada’s leadership, and rotated between Holy Redeemer, Immaculate Heart and St. Andrew parishes in North and Northeast Portland. Some years even featured liturgical dance.