As the search continues for Xavier University’s second lay president, questions linger about the university’s religious future.
St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament founded Xavier in 1925. However, the order’s presence at Xavier has declined from more than 30 sisters in the 1960s to six currently, according to Sister Monica Loughlin, assistant to the President for Catholic Identity and Mission Intergration. Despite the changes in the president’s office and in the number of sisters on campus, Loughlin said religious values and morals will continue to have an influential role in Xavier’s identity, and “the next president must remain true to the identity and mission of Xavier.”
Marketed as the nation’s only black Catholic university, these values inform academics, student life, and administrative decisions, Loughlin said. But many Xavier students are not Catholic or black.
“Xavier will always be black and Catholic, but not because we look that way,” Loughlin said, “Less than 25 percent of our students are Catholic.
Xavier’s diversity of religious denominations and ethnic groups share Catholic values, including tolerance and social justice. The SBS’s goals are to train people to carry on Xavier’s mission and become global citizens, said Father Etido Jerome, university Chaplin and associate director of Campus Ministry.
“Tradition guides the progress. Growth is built upon tradition,” Jerome said. He views the SBS’s involvement in the mission, classroom, and on the Board of Trustees as tradition paving the way for future progress.
Rev. Maurice Nutt, director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies, shares the belief of a beneficial relationship between tradition and progress at Xavier.
“Xavier University has well-founded and strong traditions, but it does not mean we remain stagnant or paralyzed; we move forward because we’re visionary,” Nutt said, “Our mission, drafted by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, is progressive.”