March 17, 2021

Amber Roseboom
Director of Media Relations
Catholic Diocese of Arlington

Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, Archdiocese of Washington, to Join Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and the Diocese of Arlington's Peace and Justice Commission for Conference to Address Racism at Church of the Nativity in Burke, Va., Saturday, March 20 

Conference is Part of Ongoing Effort in the Diocese of Arlington to Address the Evil of Racism, Rescheduled from March 2020 Due to the Onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Conference is at Full Capacity Given Social Distancing Guidelines. Interested Individuals and MEDIA are Invited to View the Conference Via Livestream here.

ARLINGTON, Va. - On Saturday, March 20, 2021, Cardinal D. Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, will serve as the keynote speaker and join Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington, at “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.” The conference, named after the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' 2018 pastoral letter responding to racism, is hosted by the Diocese of Arlington's Peace and Justice Commission and will be held at the Church of the Nativity in Burke, Va.  Presenters will take an honest look at racism in our communities and discuss how Catholics should respond. Immediately prior to the conference, Cardinal Gregory will celebrate Mass in the church.

“Sadly, more than 50 years after the civil rights movement began in this country, the evil of racism continues to exist in our nation. While great progress has been made to ensure that the rights of individuals are protected and injustices exposed, the wounds of racism persist and cry out for healing, unity and peace. As followers of Christ, we are called to respond and to confront all forms of prejudice and bigotry,” said Bishop Burbidge. “We have a sacred duty to do our part in replacing all forms of hatred with love, so that we can live in harmony as brothers and sisters united in Christ. I thank Cardinal Gregory for his ongoing leadership on this issue as we collaborate in addressing this evil.”

Conference Details


Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love


Saturday, March 20, 2021
5 p.m. Mass
7 p.m. Keynote Address, Panel and Q&A


Church of the Nativity
6400 Nativity Lane
Burke, VA 22015

To Watch Live:

The Mass, keynote and panel discussion will be livestreamed on the Diocese of Arlington's YouTube channel at Registration is not needed for the livestream.

Limited registration for safe social distancing in-person is already at capacity. As a reminder, all attendees are expected to wear face coverings, unless a health issue precludes them from doing so, and adhere to social distancing.

Given the conference is at full capacity, interested media are invited to view the conference via livestream here.

Panelists include: Emelda August, parishioner of Holy Family Catholic Church in Dale City who works with the parish's Black History & Heritage Outreach Ministry to promote Black Catholic saints; Alexandra Luevano, Clinic Director, Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic at Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington and member of the Diocese of Arlington's Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; and Jose Aguto, Associate Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant in Washington, D.C., who has worked for the National Congress of American Indians and as a Policy and Development Associate for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The conference was rescheduled from March 2020 due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and is part of an overall effort to address racism in the Diocese of Arlington and beyond.

Last August, at a prayer service on racism, Bishop Burbidge announced the formation of an Advisory Council on Racism to offer concrete steps to address racism in the Diocese. On the 2020 memorial of St. Peter Claver, Bishop Burbidge celebrated a Mass for Peace in Our Communities. In August, Bishop Burbidge and Catholic Charities hosted a forum to address racism, “Racism: Understanding, Conversion, and Action." Bishop Burbidge also celebrated a Mass and then led an evening Rosary for the Preservation of Peace and Justice. In 2019, the Bishop held listening sessions on racism, which were widely attended.

During National Black Catholic History Month, November 2020, Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony and Melissa Rihl, both members of the Bishop's Advisory Council on Racism, were guests on the diocesan Searching for More podcast to discuss racism in America and how we should respond as Catholics.

For information on the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, visit

For additional information, contact Amber Roseboom, Director of Media Relations, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, at 571-215-8731 or


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The Catholic Diocese of Arlington was established on August 13, 1974, and is home to 71 parishes and more than 460,000 Catholics. There are currently 276 priests serving in the Diocese and 45 seminarians discerning a priestly vocation. The Diocese has 37 parish (K-8) schools, four diocesan high schools, four independent Catholic schools and five free-standing (not connected with a parish school) pre-schools, serving more than 17,000 students. 

The Diocese includes the seven cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester and the 21 counties of Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, King George, Lancaster, Loudoun, Madison, Northumberland, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Richmond, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren and Westmoreland.