Current Events & Issues

(Scroll Down for Additional Media Outlets)

Catholic News Agency

The important legacy of the US' sole Catholic historically black university

New Orleans, La., Sep 22, 2019 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- This week the country marked National HBCU Week to recognize the accomplishments of historically black colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Earlier this month, leaders from the country’s 101 HBCUs convened in Washington, D.C. for the annual National HBCU Conference, where they spoke to Congress of the ongoing importance of HBCUs, and where President Donald Trump announced that religiously affiliated HBCUs would now receive full federal funding.

“Previously, federal law restricted more than 40 faith-based HBCUs and seminaries from fully accessing federal support for capital improvement projects. This meant that your faith-based institutions, which have made such extraordinary contributions to America, were unfairly punished for their religious beliefs,” Trump said in his Sept. 10 address to the conference.

"This week, our Department of Justice has published an opinion declaring such discriminatory restrictions as unconstitutional. It was a big step. And from now on, faith-based HBCUs will enjoy equal access to federal support," Trump added.

Among the leaders present was President Reynold Verret of Xavier University of Louisiana, the only Catholic historically black college or university in the United States.

In his testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, Verret emphasized the “critical role” of HBCUs in education.

Verret told CNA that in his testimony, he emphasized that as the U.S. grows in diversity, “the majority of our talents will be black and brown. And if we fail to cultivate that talent, we will actually do ourselves a great damage,” he said.

Students are not always fortunate enough to attend good schools, he added, and if black talents, such as those of Dr. Ben Carson, are not fostered, they will be lost. Carson was a prominent pediatric neurosurgeon before his run for president in 2016 and his current position as U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary,

Speaking about Xavier in particular, Verret said that the faculty encourages their students to consider the needs of their communities and their country when choosing their majors.

“The education of the student at Xavier or at a school like ourselves, it's not just a benefit to that individual student, but a benefit to the larger community that he is contributing to, and to the nation,” Verret said.

The notion of putting one’s talents at the service of another is a critical part of Xavier University’s Catholic foundation, Verret added.

“It's very much in our legacy at Xavier, that that expectation of contributing to more than just me...and we speak of that to our students,” he said. “That the majors that they engage in, whether it's preparing for medicine, preparing for law, or becoming a major artist, will only have meaning when they put it in service of people. It's not so much about my BMW, or my salary.”

The seeds of Xavier University were planted by then-Mother Katherine Drexel in 1915, when she and her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament founded schools to serve Native American and African American populations throughout the United States, including a Catholic secondary school for African-Americans in Louisiana.

By 1917, she also established a preparatory school for teachers, one of the few career tracks available to Black Americans at the time. A few years later, that school was able to offer other degrees as well, and became a full-fledged university in 1925.

In a sense, Verret said, Mother Katherine “rescued the Church from herself” at the time, because she opened an institution where students of all colors were welcome. Xavier University was also the first Catholic university where men and women studied together, he added.

The spirit of Mother Katherine, now St. Katherine Drexel, and her mission to provide a quality education to those in need is still foundational to the mission of Xavier today, Verret said.

“Mother Katherine, when she came here with her sisters in 1915...she had in her mind those who needed an education,” Verret said. “...and every 15 years, maybe even 25 years, we look at ourselves and say - who else needs our service? If Mother Katherine was beginning today, she would have others on her list as well, because this is our mission.”

When it comes to academic performance, Xavier is a school that “is punching above our weight,” Verret said.

Though the school enrolls only 3,000-some students, Xavier ranks first in the country for the number of black graduates who will go on to complete medical school, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

It is also ranked among the nation's top four colleges of pharmacy in graduating African Americans with Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) degrees, and is number one in the nation in awarding bachelor's degrees to African American students in the biological and biomedical sciences, the physical sciences, and physics, and number three in the nation for the number of African American graduates who go on to earn a Ph.D. in science and engineering fields.

Verret said that Xavier’s achievements show the important role that smaller, specialized colleges, such as HBCUs, or women’s colleges, or other religiously-affiliated colleges, can play in American higher education.

“That diversity of education (options) to satisfy young people’s needs is important to us, and HBCUs are one part of that landscape.”

HBCUs were founded at a time where it was illegal for black students to attend other institutions of higher education, and so they catered to black students out of necessity. Xavier is still predominately black, Verret said, but it always has been and continues to be accepting of students of all ethnicities and creeds, which was something Mother Katherine anticipated.

“We have an important reservoir of experience and knowledge and intuition about what America should become, which came from the children and descendants of former slaves,” Verret said, but students of all races and creeds are able to receive a good education at Xavier.

Among the other ethnicities at Xavier are a large group of Vietnamese students, as well as students from Iraq who came to the United States during the Iraq war, Verret said. More than 71 percent of Xavier students are African American, while just 19 percent are Catholic, in large part because African Americans in the south are primarily from Protestant or Evangelical ecclesial communities, Verret said.
Still, Verret said, it is important to have HBCUs as predominately black institutions, where black students who are still a minority in this country can go and not feel like they stand out.

Speaking from his own experience as a young college student, Verret said that HBCUs offer students a place where their race is “not an issue.”

“I’m not the representative (of blacks or African Americans). I am the editor of the school newspaper. I am one of the members of the chemistry club, I’m not the black member of the chemistry club,” he said. “It’s a certain freedom that many whites in the United States cannot understand because they're not experiencing that.”

As for it’s Catholic identity, Verret said the school has a strong sense of Catholic service and social justice engrained into its mission.

As one example of service, Verret said that every year, student deans and other peer leaders volunteer their time to help move in new students on campus. When asked why they did so, Verret said one of the student leaders told him: “So that they'll know next year, it’s their turn.”

The school’s sense of service can be seen in its mission statement, which notes: “The ultimate purpose of the University is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society.”

Another example of the school’s Catholic mission, Verret said, is in its spirit of camaraderie and solidarity in its successful pre-med program. Often schools will try to scare off medical or pre-medical students by telling them: “Look to your right and look to your left. One of you won’t be here (by the end),” Verret said.

“That notion, that doesn’t exist at Xavier. We gather and pull each other so that we should all go cross that finish line together.”

Enrollment is back up at Xavier after a couple of years of decline following Hurricane Katrina, Verret noted, and the way that the school, as well as other HBCUs, will preserve their legacy is by “telling their stories” and telling of their current successes, Verret said.

“The other HBCUs are of very different sizes and very different complexions. But at the same time, what I can say is the uniting theme is that they continue to educate and graduate students who go on and are at the core of what America needs to be.”

Click to read more...

Diocese of Providence

New Rector Installed at Seminary of Our Lady of Providence

Father Christopher Murphy was installed as rector of the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence at the Mass of the Holy Spirit on September 4, officially marking the start of the school year. Click to read more...

Faith is the foundation for 200 couples celebrating milestone anniversaries

For the past 12 years, the Diocese of Providence has held a special Mass for couples throughout Rhode Island celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries. Click to read more...

Back to School

Smiles on their first days back! Click to read more...

7th Annual National Day of Remembrance

...for babies lost to abortion, stillbirth, early infant illness and miscarriage Click to read more...

Mass for Public Safety to honor those who serve and protect

The community will soon have an opportunity to pray and honor all those who serve and protect; a special chance to offer their prayerful support for those who continue to put their lives on the line. Click to read more...

LifeNews.com

 

No Surprise Abortionist Didn’t Respect Aborted Babies, He Didn’t Respect Them When They Were Alive

As word spreads of the discovery of the bodies of 2246 aborted babies in the residence of recently deceased abortionist Ulrich Klopfer, people are disgusted, drawing commentary even from the White House. There are many lessons we can draw from this sad incident. First, the disgust we rightfully feel about the bodies he had in […] Click to read more...

Pro-Abortion Nurse May Have Reported Pro-Lifer to CPS to Get Her Kids Taken Away

Though about half of Americans identify as pro-life, discrimination against those who support the rights of unborn babies appears to be growing. Nurses say they are being forced to help abort unborn babies or lose their jobs. Reports of bomb threats, vandalism and harassment targeting pro-lifers are growing. In the latest case, an Oregon woman […] Click to read more...

Miracle Baby Goes Home After He’s Born Weighing 1 Pound, Feet Were the Size of a Penny

Baby Finn Hill’s life is a miracle for more reasons than one. When his Florida parents, Jessica and Christopher Hill, were unable to conceive on their own, they turned to a new, life-affirming way to grow their family – embryo adoption, Bay News 9 reports. Then, in May, Jessica went into premature labor and gave […] Click to read more...

Disabled Woman: No One Questioned My Abortion, But People Criticized Me When I Had a Baby

Sometimes even people who support legalized abortion admit to being troubled by the discrimination inherent in modern abortion advocacy. Women frequently report feeling pressured to abort their unborn babies after a disability diagnosis. And it is well-known that Margaret Sanger, who founded America’s largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood, was a strong advocate for eugenics. But […] Click to read more...

Judge Blocks Missouri Pro-Life Law Banning Abortions on Babies After 20 Weeks

A Missouri law banning abortions on unborn babies after 20 weeks will remain blocked after a federal judge refused a request from the state to enforce the ban. U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs blocked most parts of the pro-life law in August after the Planned Parenthood abortion chain sued. The Missouri Stands For the Unborn […] Click to read more...

 

The Coming Home Network

 

The CHNetwork Weekly Roundup #172

Got a question about the Catholic Church, or need assistance on your journey? Consider becoming a member, or feel free to contact us for more information.  The Coming Home Network exists to help converts,...

The post The CHNetwork Weekly Roundup #172 appeared first on The Coming Home Network.

Click to read more...

The Healing Power of Confession – Carlos Zamora

Carlos Zamora was raised Catholic, and went to confession a few times, but never took it seriously. When he returned to the Church later in life, and finally made a...

The post The Healing Power of Confession – Carlos Zamora appeared first on The Coming Home Network.

Click to read more...

The CHNetwork Weekly Roundup #171

Got a question about the Catholic Church, or need assistance on your journey? Consider becoming a member, or feel free to contact us for more information.  The Coming Home Network exists to help converts,...

The post The CHNetwork Weekly Roundup #171 appeared first on The Coming Home Network.

Click to read more...

The Wisdom of Catholic Moral Teaching – Dr. Francis Beckwith

Raised Catholic, Dr. Francis Beckwith drifted away from the Catholic Church and toward Evangelical Christianity in his teenage years. And while he still held to many aspects of Catholic moral...

The post The Wisdom of Catholic Moral Teaching – Dr. Francis Beckwith appeared first on The Coming Home Network.

Click to read more...

You Are Home in the Catholic Church … Now What?

For many who have recently been baptized or come into full communion with the Catholic Church, there is a temptation to believe that you have finally arrived. Those who enter...

The post You Are Home in the Catholic Church … Now What? appeared first on The Coming Home Network.

Click to read more...