Archbishop Beltran revisited
I was on the website of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City today and learned that the archdiocese has posted a great slideshow showing the career highlights of Archbishop Eusebius Beltran.
I’m including a link to the slideshow here: Archbishop Beltran through the years.
I learned a lot about Catholicism through Beltran. He proved to be a very patient and kind person so that served to make our working relationship a cordial one.
Beltran (pictured at far right) was replaced as archbishop last month by the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley (pictured left of Beltran).
My most vivid memory of Beltran is of an interview several years ago — 2005 — when I was writing a story related to the Martin Luther King holiday.
I was talking to Beltran as the archdiocese was about to host a King holiday Mass at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in northeast Oklahoma City.
I listened intently as he explained that he was born in Pennsylvania but his ministry career eventually took him to the deep South — Atlanta to be exact.
While there, Beltran was among the Roman Catholic clergy who marched with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
That was six years ago and I’ve done countless stories on Beltran on a variety of subjects, but that story stands out to me.
It helped me to see him as a fellow human being — not just a religious official — simply trying to do his part to make the world a better place.
I’ve include that 2005 story is below for the curious. Also, check out the slideshow featuring Beltran.
Archbishop Stood With King
By Carla Hinton
Having been a twentysomething Catholic priest in Atlanta, the Most Rev. Eusebius Beltran remembers the turbulent 1960s well.
Beltran is archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. But in the ’60s, he was among the many Catholic clergy who participated in the civil-rights marches along with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
His poignant memories of those times will make Monday’s celebration of Mass at Corpus Christi Catholic Church extra special. The King holiday Mass is a first for the Catholic church in northeast Oklahoma City.
“The tension in the country was just tremendous at that time,” said Beltran, 70, as he recalled the America of yesteryear. “They were exciting times. They were interesting times. They were wonderful times.”
A native of Pennsylvania, Beltran was ordained as a priest in 1960 by the Archdiocese of Georgia, headquartered then in Decatur, Ga. The minute he stepped off the bus into the Deep South, Beltran observed the “colored” entrances at restaurants, gasoline stations and other place, he said.
“When I first witnessed that, I was horrified.” The bus itself, of course, was segregated.
Beltran said he soon became enmeshed in the Catholic church’s advocacy role in the civil-rights movement, particularly when he became a priest in Atlanta, King’s native city.
Participating in the marches organized by King or one of his delegates became a fact of life for Beltran. He said the Catholic church was more than willing to be involved. For one thing, the church believed in equality.
In addition, Beltran said King was well-liked and respected by most Catholic clergy. An example of this was when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Georgia archbishop held a celebratory reception in King’s honor.
The marches, Beltran said, were “the tool to use. They were very effective ways of getting the attention of the nation.”
Beltran remembers several marches, in particular, the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in March 1965. He said he and the three priests he traveled with fully expecting to be jailed — or worse — having been warned by the Alabama police that such a fate awaited all march participants.
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