November is Black Catholic History Month! All month long we are celebrating the vibrant history of the Black Catholic community during Morning Prayer and in Religion class.
DeMetria White is our Religion Teacher and Director of Campus Ministry, in her ninth year at WSG and her second in her current role. Ms. White’s journey into the faith was a deeply personal one: her late mother was baptized into the Catholic church as an adult, shortly before her death. Driven by a desire to stay spiritually connected with her mother, Ms. White sought out the opportunity to regularly attend Catholic mass with an aunt, one of few in her family who actively practiced religion. So began a deep and ever evolving relationship with God and the Catholic Church. As she grew older, she explored other Christian denominations by attending church with friends, but found her way back to the Catholic community when she enrolled at Trinity Washington University.
For Ms. White, being Catholic means having a personal relationship with God - and making sure to take the word of God into action. She sees each homily, each scripture reading, each prayer or examen as an opportunity to apply Catholic principles to her own life. The traditions of the Church and its theology are meant to continue beyond Mass and into our everyday lives, how we treat others, and how we decide to live morally and spiritually. This relationship grows stronger each time we engage with our spirituality, and each theological principle is infinitely relevant to our evolving human experience. And most importantly, we must celebrate ourselves as part of God’s creation, as she often tells her students, “you can still be a fun person, you can still have your free will, but you can do it in such a way that you are still amplifying and glorifying God... Those two things can coexist.”
This year, Ms. White began pursuit of her Master’s in Theology from Xavier University’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies. The experience has been an enriching one - being a student again is shaping how she teaches Religion at WSG. Informed by her experience as the only woman in her cohort, she has been thinking more intentionally about how to help our girls see themselves in the Bible and see the value that they have as members of the Church. And as an educator during an era of polarization, she focuses on ensuring students dive into the complexities of religious teachings to better understand the context. She explains, “We tend to weaponize the bible, pulling out pieces to prove our point and ignoring the verses before and after that might give more depth and nuance to our understanding.” She hopes her students will learn to take a more holistic approach to their faith practice throughout their lives.