Verret said that the Catholic Church has a rich tradition in the black Catholic community from which to draw, and that the Church can continually grow and learn when it comes to reaching out to the black community. During Katharine Drexel's time, many Catholic Churches and institutions operated with the same segregation as the rest of the country.
"As a human institution we fall short of God our Father and the calling of Jesus, but that's not (surprising) because we're human institutions in the process of perfection - we are called to speak the truth and to bring real information and light before the world and into the Church," he said.
The Institute of Black Catholic Studies out of Xavier University also examines the worship styles and cultural traditions of black Catholics in the country.
What is distinct about black Catholic culture can be seen clearly in the music and worship style of the community, Verret said.
"I would offer any parish to use the hymnal 'Lead Me Guide Me', created by the Institute of Black Catholic Studies in the late 70s and 80s," Verret said. "The style of worship somewhat differs from the style of worship in the Northern European tradition - it is not quiet, it is much more expressive of spirituality, people sing, people express things with their hands."
While Xavier University is historically black, the school has always been open to students of other races, and today's student population is about 70 percent black and 30 percent students of other races.
This diversity provides students with learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom, Verret said, which can show students how to be united even with those who are different than they are, Verret said.
"In this moment we're still struggling with - 'who's the other?' We're not assuming that we are all one people. But really we have an expansive global message [at Xavier] which is that we are one people and what we have to give is for the large community and the larger nation," he said.
During February, which is Black History Month, the school is also sponsoring events and speakers to honor their cultural heritage, including an art exhibit, a private screening of the movie Black Panther, and a screening of the HBCU series "Tell Them We Are Rising".
Verret added that he hoped the message that Xavier University sends through its students and alumni is one that continues to dissipate the myth that black students can't perform as well as other students.
"We are disabusing the nation of the myth that was prevalent after the Civil War, which is that these young people are not educated and could not be educated at a high level. What Xavier did was to educate students who can sit and compete and be equal and present whether at medical school or law school...and these students demonstrate that they're able to achieve and contribute at those levels, and that's an important message."
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