For the 29th consecutive year, a prayer service honoring the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at All Saints Catholic Church, 4051 N. 25th St., Milwaukee.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee Office of Black Catholic and Ethnic Ministries, Black Catholic Ministry Commission, Black and Indian Mission Office Grant, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, All Saints Catholic Church, 2020 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Prayer Service – Planning Committee are sponsoring the service to celebrate the life and legacy of the slain Baptist minister and activist.

This year’s theme is “Meeting the Challenge of a New Age,” and features speaker Michael Adams, a member of All Saints Catholic Church and Milwaukee Jobs Works director of employee development. According to Sr. Mary Callista Robinson, member of St. Martin de Porres Parish and member of the Black Catholic Ministry, the theme is taken from one of King’s speeches.

“Our speaker will talk about the challenges that Dr. King noted and the challenges that we face in the world today. We hope that people will take seriously what the speaker has outlined as challenges and then resolve to find solutions to the challenges,” said Sr. Robinson. “Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches are very relevant today because very little has changed in the nation regarding social justice issues such as education, health care and employment, especially for African Americans. Injustices need to be brought forth and everyone must work towards finding solutions to these injustices.”

King played an integral role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until April 4, 1968, when he was shot dead by James Earl Ray while standing outside his second-floor room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. News of his assassination prompted major outbreaks of racial violence, resulting in more than 40 deaths nationwide and extensive property damage in more than 100 American cities.

King sought equality and human rights for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and all victims of injustice through peaceful protest.

King was the motivation behind landmark events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington, which helped bring about such groundbreaking legislation as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in America. The 35-year-old Georgia-born minister was the youngest person ever to receive the award.

During King’s funeral, a tape recording was played in which King spoke of how he wanted to be remembered after his death: “I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.” (The Drum Major Instinct” Sermon,” by King on Feb. 4, 1968)

According to Carl Carby, a member of St. Francis of Assisi, the Black Catholic Ministry Commission and a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Prayer Service Group, they hope the prayer service will imbue King’s message with the community.

“The impact of the Dr. King prayer service is to give the community, our country and the world, hope based off of different talks or speeches Dr. King spoke on which relates to things going on in society today,” he said, adding, “It is a very relevant message. We need to commemorate MLK’s works and struggles, because a lot of programs he fought for are in areas we as a generation need to add our voices to, such as housing, jobs, discrimination and racism.”

While many Americans assume that Dr. King fought solely for the rights of Blacks and African Americans, Carby said it was for the entire country, so we could be one nation, treating each other equally.

“Each year, the speaker’s message is right on point, (but) it is then up to us as individuals to leave and practice what we preach,” he said. “The prayer service is held every year in January with the opportunity to lean on ‘Hope, Change and New Direction,’ with our younger generation stepping forward to continue the struggles Dr. King voiced.”

The prayer service that is open to all will begin with a musical prelude by the choir director and musicians from All Saints Catholic Church. The service runs from 2 to 3:15 p.m., with a reception to follow. Last year, approximately 300 attended the service and Carby hopes for even more this year.

“The committee works on the program for a whole year. They look at speeches given by Dr. King which relate to what is going on in our country, states or cities,” he said. “The opportunity to hear MLK’s message each year is rotated among the central city’s Catholic churches.”


If you want to go

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Prayer Service

Saturday, Jan. 18

All Saints Catholic Church, 4051 N. 25th St., Milwaukee

Speaker: Michael Adams

“Meeting the Challenge of a New Age”

Prelude – 1:30 p.m.

Prayer Service – 2 p.m.