I had the privilege of knowing Fr. Cyprian in multiple capacities: as a fellow Black Catholic priest and our membership in the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus; as a faculty colleague at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University (New Orleans); and as a fellow Black Catholic scholar and our membership in the Black Catholic Theological Symposium. Yet these are but only the formal settings of our professional relationships. More importantly and significantly, Cyprian was for me and many others a role model, a mentor, and even a legend. I always approached him with attitudes of awe, reverence, and respect – and deep admiration, appreciation, and affection. There are few scholars whose works can be called “seminal,” “ground-breaking,” “essential,” and “indispensable.” Cyprian’s works richly merit these descriptions. But why? Allow me to answer by means of a metaphor.


Author's note: Portions of this essay have been revised and augmented from an earlier contribution: Bryan N. Massingale, “Cyprian Davis and the Black Catholic Intellectual Vocation,” U.S. Catholic Historian 28 (Winter 2010), 65-82.

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