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Dominicans of Xavier University

NEW ORLEANS, LA—In 2008 three Dominicans are an integral part of Xavier University of Louisiana. Bro. Herman de Porres Johnson, Ed.D., assistant professor of Spanish, joined the faculty in 1989—although he had earlier received his M.A. there. Fr. Jeffery M. Ott, M.Div., became the chaplain and associate director of campus ministry in 2003; he had also received his undergraduate degree at Xavier University. More recently Sr. Jamie T. Phelps, S.T.D., an Adrian Dominican, became the director for the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier, which was founded in 1980.

The current Dominicans of Xavier continue a 64-year tradition of Dominicans at this only historically Black Catholic university in the United States, which is also the only American college founded by a Catholic Saint (Katharine Drexel—whose canonization in 2001 was attended by Fr. Bryan Fontenot and Herman Johnson). Mother Katharine had founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to serve Indian (Native American) and Colored (African American) peoples. 

The first Dominican at Xavier was Fr. James Arthur MacInerney, from St. Albert the Great Province, who arrived in 1943 to teach theology and philosophy, besides becoming director for the Third Order of St. Dominic there in 1951; (incidentally his salary for his first semester at the University was an amazing $40.00).

Jamie Phelps
Jamie Phelps, OP

Following Fr. MacInerney, 21 Dominican friars have been at Xavier—primarily as professors of philosophy, theology and scripture. Dominican priests also assisted with the University chaplaincy—celebrating and preaching at Mass, plus counseling students.

Sr. Betty Doskey, a St. Mary’s Congregation Dominican, also had been a member of the faculty.

In 1998 the Southern Dominican Province presented its St. Martin de Porres Award to Dr. and Mrs. Norman C. (Blanche) Francis. Dr. Francis, Xavier’s fifth and current president, is the longest serving president—since 1968--of an American university.

Xavier is also honored to have its latest residence building dedicated in 2004 to our Peruvian Black Dominican as St. Martin de Porres Hall.

Our Dominicans are proud to have served for so many years the students (and faculty and staff) of this Black Catholic institution of higher education in New Orleans.

Carl B. Trutter, OP (St. Martin)

ABOVE: students of the campus ministry center with Jeffrey Ott, OP

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