PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Bishop David Zubik is establishing St. Benedict the Moor Church in the city’s Hill District as a special parish for the Black Catholic community of Pittsburgh.

St. Benedict the Moor will become a “personal parish” on July 13.

According to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, a “personal parish” is one that “responds to specific spiritual needs often related to a particular culture or an extraordinary need.”

Anyone who wants to be part of their Catholic community is welcome.

“It stands on the hill that overlooks the city. That has to be a constant reminder of how important Black Catholics are to us,” Bishop David Zubik told KDKA.

(Photo Credit: Bryce Lutz/KDKA)

In a news release, Bishop Zubik said, “Along with their sincere enthusiasm and passion for their Catholic faith, I heard and felt their desire to have their unique spiritual and cultural needs met. I want to raise awareness of the need to walk with our Black sisters and brothers as they continue to enrich and be an integral part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Catholic Church Universal.”

St. Benedict the Moor Church has a 130-year history in the Hills District. The church sits next to Freedom Corner, a civil rights landmark in the Hill District.

The change has been in the works for some time, but the diocese says it’s especially meaningful now after protests nationwide and in Pittsburgh following the death of George Floyd.

“It’s a critical time. And I hope this is a time when we all really do need to root out racism, which is a sin. And I’m not sure in the past we have come to a point to be able to empathize with our Black sisters and brothers,” Bishop Zubik said.

Bishop Zubik said he visited the parish back in February and afterward formed a small task force or clergy and parishioners who came up with the proposal for the “personal parish” designation.

He plans to celebrate Mass at the parish on July 12, one day before the designation goes into effect, barring any coronavirus restrictions.