My Journey to Priesthood: An African-American Perspective


By Reverend Alonzo Q. Cox, M.A., M.Div.

From a very early age, I knew that God was calling me to priesthood. I was an altar server at my parish, after my Confirmation I was a catechist then I was asked by my pastor to work in the rectory on the weekends. Church was always a major part of my life. My family and I would go to mass every Sunday. Prayer was very much an integral part of our family life as well.

As I was discerning my vocation there were many aspects that came to my mind, many of which are normal such as not having a family of my own or how to deal with loneliness. The one major facet that kept coming to my mind and throughout my prayer is that I would be one of a very few African-American seminarians.

As I progressed through the minor and major seminary the reality began to dawn on me that I would be one of only 3 African-American priests serving my diocese. I was ordained to the priesthood on June 26, 2010 and was welcomed to the brotherhood of my presbyterate, who saw me not just as an African-American, but truly as their brother!

Currently I serve as Pastor of the parish of St. Martin dePorres, which is a canonically merged parish with three churches, Our Lady of Victory, Holy Rosary and St. Peter Claver. The parish is dominantly comprised of African-Americans, Caribbeans, West-Indians and those of African descent. The neighborhood is gentrifying so there are many Caucasians, Asians and those of other ethnic backgrounds coming to our parish.

What I have been privileged to see is the great love that we have for each other and our cultures. Each Sunday when I look out into the pews of my congregation I see an array of faces that truly make up the Body of Christ that is the Church. As a young African-American priest I am grateful to Almighty God for having the opportunity to share my culture and story with the people whom he as entrusted to me.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we celebrate the great achievements that African-Americans and those of African descent have made both locally and nationally. As Catholics, we pray through the intercession of the great African saints who dedicated their lives to Christ and his Church. Saints like Josephine Bakhita, Martin dePorres and Charles Lwanga who inspire African-Americans and those of African descent to continue the mission of praying for peace, justice and equality.

As a young African-American priest I continue to thank God for the many blessings that he has bestowed upon me, most especially for my vocation to the priesthood. During Black History Month I celebrate with my community my great history and the incredible future that awaits us as the mystical Body of Christ.

About The Author – Reverend Alonzo Q. Cox, M.A., M. Div. was born in Brooklyn on March 22, 1983. He was ordained on June 26, 2010 at St. James Cathedral Basilica by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. He was assigned to the parish of St. Clare, in Rosedale Queens as Parochial Vicar. In addition to his position as Parochial Vicar, Bishop DiMarzio appointed Father Alonzo to serve as the Diocesan Coordinator of the African American Apostolate and Ministry to African American Catholics. In November 2014, Father Alonzo was appointed Pastor of St. Martin DePorres parish, which consists of Our Lady of Victory, Holy Rosary and St. Peter Claver churches in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.