February 24, 2018

Positivity: The historically black Catholic university founded by a saint

Filed under: Education,Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From New Orleans:

Feb 12, 2018 / 12:00 pm

Of the 106 historically black colleges in the United States, only one is Roman Catholic – Xavier University of Louisiana.

But Xavier is also the only Catholic college, of the United States’ 251 Catholic colleges, to have been founded by an American-born saint.

C. Reynold Verret, president of Xavier University of Louisiana, told CNA that the spirit and charism of St. Katharine Drexel, foundress of the school, continue strongly on campus today.

“She saw education as a transformative gift, and that’s something we need to understand today,” Verret said. “That education is not a gift to the individual, even though it does improve the life of the individual, but it’s a gift to the communities to which those individuals returned, in which they serve, it’s an ever-expanding gift.”

Katharine Drexel was born to a wealthy and devout Catholic family in Philadelphia in 1858, and shocked much of society when she decided to become a religious sister and a missionary to Native Americans and African-Americans.

Supported by the inheritance from her father, Drexel and her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament founded schools to serve these populations throughout the United States, including a Catholic secondary school for African-Americans in Louisiana in 1915.

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, the school was able to offer other degrees as well and became a full-fledged university in 1925.

Drexel’s gift was her ability to see potential, and God’s presence, in all people, despite having grown up in a segregated world.

“There’s a famous New York Times interview in 1915 when…the reporter asked Mother Katharine – ‘why are you using this expensive Indiana limestone for a school for black children?’ And Mother Katherine said, ‘do they not deserve the best?’” Verret said.

“We often remind ourselves of that, and I think that comes from her spirituality, where she could see, despite living in a segregated country where some were more valued than others, somehow she could see value in all, and I think that is her charism,” he said.

That charism continues on in Xavier University today through its “rigorous academics, its great faculty, and expectations,” Verret said.

Besides being a top-ranked Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Xavier University also sends the most African Americans on to medical school of any HBCU in the country, Verret told CNA. The school is also one of the top HBCUs for sending students on to doctoral programs in the sciences, and has several alumni who are currently serving as federal judges, he added. …

Go here for the rest of the story.


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