Congratulations to Fr. Clarence Williams, C.PP.S., who this year is celebrating the 40th anniversary of his ordination.
Fr. Williams, 68, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., who was raised in Cleveland, entered the Society in 1965 and was ordained on October 28, 1978, in Cleveland, by Bishop James Hickey. Fr. Williams is now completing his time as pastor of St. James the Less Church in Columbus.
Throughout his years as a priest, Fr. Williams has been active in parish ministry, the leadership of his religious congregation, and helping the Church promote racial equality and understand racial issues.
After his ordination, Fr. Williams served as an assistant pastor then pastor of St. Anthony Church in Detroit. During that time he served for 25 years as a regular celebrant for the televised Mass for shut-ins. He also received grants to produce television shows for national and international broadcast through Vatican distribution. Productions titles included, “A Search for a Black Christian Heritage,” a four-part documentary on the African roots of Christianity; a series on black vocations entitled “In God’s Service;” “Rejoice!” on global black worship; “Saint!” the gospel musical on the life of St. Martin de Porres; as well as national teleconferences on racism. He served as an executive producer on “Sr. Thea, Her Own Story,” for which he won the Christopher Award for Religious Broadcasting. This show also appeared on NBC. Fr. Williams was selected to produce the ABC Easter Mass for the United States in 1987.
Fr. Williams was appointed director of Black Catholic ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1995.While in this position, Fr. Williams served as the co-convener of Building Bridges in Black and Brown, a national dialogue between the African American and Hispanic/Latino communities. He was the editor of People of the Pyramids: The Dialogue between the African American and Hispanic/Latino Communities.
In 1998, the Rev. Dr. Williams received his PhD from the Union Institute and University of Cincinnati in global education and cultural communications. He was then named the director of formation for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. He has also served on the provincial council of the Missionaries for 12 years.
The Rev. Dr. Williams was named the director of racial equality and diversity for Catholic Charities USA in Alexandria, VA in 2007. He established the national office of the Institute for Recovery from Racisms at the Paulist North American Center in Washington. This office promoted the Racial Sobriety approach through presentations, workshops, facilitations and trainings throughout the United States, South America, Africa, and Europe.
He is the author of Recovery from Everyday Racisms; Racial Sobriety: A Journey from Hurts to Healing; The Spanish Workbook; The Portuguese Workbook; and Racial Sobriety: Becoming the Change You Want to See. From 2010–12, he served as pastor of clustered parishes of Holy Innocents-St. Barnabas Parish in Roseville and East Point, Mich. During this time he recorded the YouTube videos on parish-based evangelization for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
His awards include Keep the Dream Alive Award in Detroit, 1997; Dr. King Unity and Peace Award and the Archbishop James Lyke Award from the Pan African Roman Catholic Clergy Conference, 1999; the Teresa Maxis Award, 2008; the Msgr. Phillip Murnion Award for Pastoral Excellence in Faith and Culture from the National Pastoral Life Center, 2009.
The Rev. Dr. Williams has served on the boards of colleges and universities; on the North American Board for Reconciliation and as the vice chairperson of Bread for the World.
He is presently on the leadership team of the Association of US Catholic Priests; and has served as vice-president on the board of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus. He contributed to the US Bishops new effort on intercultural leadership, Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers (2013).
In 2016, the National Association for Catholic Social Work adopted his Racial Sobriety model as its model for the conversation on racial issues.
On July 1, Fr. Williams will leave the diocese of Columbus to go to the Diocese of Cleveland to continue ministry there.
Fr. Williams’ anniversary, along with the milestone anniversaries of 12 other Missionaries of the Precious Blood of the Cincinnati Province, signifying hundreds of years of ministerial service to God’s people, will be celebrated in a special liturgy on July 2 at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio.
“The lives of these C.PP.S. priests and brothers are an example of faithfulness and commitment for all of us,” said Fr. Larry Hemmelgarn, C.PP.S., provincial director of the Cincinnati Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. “We thank God for their lives of service, which have brought so much good to so many.”
The Missionaries of the Precious Blood is a religious society of priests, brothers and lay associates founded in 1815 by St. Gaspar del Bufalo. Society members work as missionaries in parishes in the U.S. and abroad, in education and in a wide range of apostolates, promoting the cause of God’s reconciliation worldwide by proclaiming the Word.