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Xavier University of Louisiana has announced a new initiative to unite groups working on the promotion of African American canonization causes. A resource center spearheaded by the university’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies will compile and exhibit educational works about the lives of African Americans whose sainthood causes are open.

Xavier President Reynold Verret said the stories of these African Americans are important to every Catholic, no matter their background.

“It speaks profoundly…to the resilience of Catholic faith, even as it was oppressed in the 19th and 20th century,” he said.

The resource center will initially display information on five black Catholics from the 18th-20th centuries: Julia Greeley, Pierre Toussaint, Mother Mary Lange, Henriette Delille, and Father Augustus Tolton. It will also include information on St. Katharine Drexel, who founded Xavier University of Louisiana, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Other stories of potential saints will be added in the future, as new causes open.

In addition to advancing the canonization causes of holy men and women, Verret said the project is established “to promote the stories of those saints to the larger Catholic community.”

“By this I don’t mean just the black Catholic community…but also the larger Catholic community of any ethnic origin because their examples are powerful examples of living a life of devotion.”

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