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Friday News Roundup: Exploring the possibility of a Navajo Catholic College (and more!)

St. Michael Indian School and Xavier University to Explore Catholic College for Native Americans

St. Michael Indian School (SMIS) and Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) announced recently that the two institutions have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a partnership to explore the establishment of a Catholic university to be located on the campus of St. Michael Indian School in St. Michaels, Arizona. Both institutions founded by Saint Katharine Drexel will implement a four-stage process through 2020 that begins with a feasibility study conducted by both institutions for an affiliated Catholic university.

The intent of the MOU signed by Xavier University of Louisiana and St. Michael Indian School is to explore the founding of an affiliated university to provide Catholic higher education that builds up the faith, values, and wisdom of the students on the Navajo Nation. It also established an ongoing relationship between the two institutions to explore the university’s feasibility and funding possibilities along with a potential infrastructure plan.

The MOU outlined a four-phase process where each institution will take the deliberate steps necessary to ensure the appropriate groundwork is completed that would lead to the founding of a university on St. Michael Indian School’s campus. The first phase of the MOU recently began with the implementation of a study that will explore the feasibility of building an affiliated Catholic university to serve the Native American population. Conversations during this phase will center around project funding, potential funding prospects, and the overall plausibility of the university.

“With a signed MOU in place, Xavier University of Louisiana and St. Michael Indian School join together through faith, fervent prayer, and the providential vision of our shared Foundress to undertake this exploration with a prayerful discernment over 100 years in the making,” said Reynold Verret, president of Xavier University of Louisiana.

Strategic partners outlined within the MOU also include the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Guadalupe Franciscan Province. These strategic partners will have input and decision-making capabilities throughout each of the phases outlined within the MOU.

Today, there are over 240 Catholic universities and colleges in the United States. Xavier is the nation’s only historically Black and Catholic university. If solidified, this partnership would establish the nation’s first affiliated Catholic university with the explicit mission to provide a four-year, liberal arts curriculum to serve the Native American population.

A Shared Mission and History 

SMIS and XULA have a shared mission and history as educational institutions founded by Saint Katharine Drexel whose mission continues today through her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to create Catholic educational opportunities for Native and African American peoples.

In 1900, Saint Katharine Drexel began her work to establish educational facilities for the Native people through buying land in the area known today as St. Michaels, Arizona. With assistance from nine of her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Guadalupe Franciscan friars, and tribal leaders including Chee Dodge, Saint Drexel opened St. Michael Indian School in 1902, making it the oldest and continuously operating school on the Navajo Nation today. In 1915, the archbishop of New Orleans approached then Mother Katharine about the lack of Catholic higher education for African Americans. Mother Katharine opened a high school that same year on a site located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Within eight years, what we know today as Xavier University of Louisiana began offering a four-year, liberal arts curriculum.

“Throughout Saint Katharine’s storied life, she remained committed to providing an educational ladder from kindergarten through college for Native Americans,” explained Dot Teso, president of St. Michael Indian School. “Today, we continue that commitment by joining forces with Xavier University of Louisiana to begin the process of establishing a Catholic university on St. Michael Indian School’s campus. Saint Katharine Drexel would be very pleased to see us expand her mission for the Native American people.”

More info: https://stmichaelindianschool.org

St. Joseph’s Men’s Club Fundraiser

Do you – or does someone you know – love fishing? The Men’s Club at St. Joseph Parish in Aztec, NM is raffling a guided, 3-night fly-fishing trip on the San Juan river. Proceeds will support the projects of the Men’s Club, which has served the church by taking on building repairs, as well as home repairs for disadvantages parishioners, assembling Mother’s Day baskets, installing Wi-Fi, and much more.

Tickets: $5 each or 5 for $20. Learn more or purchase tickets at this link.

SWIF is Looking for a Paid Summer Intern!

The Southwest Indian Foundation is looking for a male Catholic, at least 18 years of age, for a paid summer internship to help build the St. Kateri Shrine and Rosary Walk. Meals and housing will be provided! Interested applicants can contact Jeremy Boucher at [email protected]

The Southwest Indian Foundation is looking for a male Catholic, at least 18 years of age, for a paid summer internship to help build the St. Kateri Shrine and Rosary Walk. Meals and housing will be provided! Interested applicants can contact Jeremy Boucher at [email protected]

Retreat Center Job Opening

Sacred Heart Retreat Center in Gallup is looking for a part-time housekeeper. If interested, email [email protected] or call Deacon Copeland at 505-863-4406. Job description here.

A Weekend With the Fathers of the Church

Date and Time: January 18, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm and January 12, 8:30 am – 10:00 am
Place: Sacred Heart Retreat Center, Highway 602, Mile Marker 27 just south of Gallup
Cost: $35.00 (seniors cost $25.00). This covers tuition and lunch on Saturday.

Fr. James Walker is the instructor. The accompanying book is The Fathers of the Church: Expanded Edition by Michael Aquilina. Register by January 16 by calling Sr. Rene Backe at 505-863-6611 or emailing [email protected]


The Friday news roundup presents a quick overview of Catholic stories and events from around the Diocese of Gallup, United States, and world. Have a news tip or event to promote? Email [email protected], call 505-863-4406 or mail us at PO Box 1338, Gallup NM 87305.

Suzanne Hammonshttp://dioceseofgallup.org
Suzanne Hammons is the editor of the Voice of the Southwest and the media coordinator for the Diocese of Gallup. A graduate of Benedictine College in Kansas, she joined the Diocesan staff in 2012.

1 COMMENT

  1. What is the message given by the priest having his back to the people during the celebration of the Eucharist?
    1. Christ is present in the priest and the sacred species, but less so in the people present in the pews.
    2. The celebration of the Eucharist is the role of the priest, not fully participated in by the people present, since most of the Mass is now hidden from them.
    3. The Eucharist is a private devotion, rather than the communal celebration of the Paschal Mystery.
    These are the wrong messages. I recommend studying the Vatican Council document, Lumen Gentium.

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