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XULA chaplain receives award from Catholic Campus Ministry Association

The chaplain of the nation's only Catholic HBCU, a Josephite priest, has received an award for innovative campus ministry and service.

Fr Etido Jerome, SSJ, the chaplain of Xavier University of Louisiana, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Fr Robert Beloin Award, which honors a Catholic campus minister excelling in innovative service to the laity.

The news came at last month’s Called Conference, put on each year by the Catholic Campus Ministry Association (CCMA).

“It is humbling and truly an honor,” Jerome said in a statement.

“I dedicate this award to the many [XULA] students who have inspired me to think differently about ministry on college campuses.”

The award is named in honor of Fr Beloin, longtime Catholic chaplain at Yale University, who died in 2018—the most recent year Called Conference was held in person.

This year’s event, held June 2-4th, was virtual and featured speakers from around the country with expertise in various facets of campus and other ministries.

Among them were a number of Black Catholics, including Jerome’s own auxiliary bishop, Fernand Cheri III, OFM of New Orleans; Sr Josephine Garrett, CSFN of Tyler, Texas; and Doris Barrow III of Texas Southern University in Houston.

The event was co-sponsored by the Knights of Peter Claver & Ladies Auxiliary, whose first-ever collegiate unit was established at XULA during Jerome’s tenure, in 2018.

Jerome was featured in CCMA’s Office Hours presentation series this past Spring, speaking on his “Encounter by Design” approach to campus ministry, which empowers students to lead rather than depend on professional programming.

His work and his students were also highlighted in Randy Young’s “Catholic Campus Ministry: Fifteen Profiles in Achievement”, a book released last fall.

The CCMA awards ceremony honed in on Jerome’s grassroots focus, which centers the voices of students in retreat planning, outreach initiatives, service opportunities, and other campus social activities.

“It is their zeal, commitment and passion for Christ that has motivated me to see ministry not as ‘something done for others but as something done with others’,” Jerome said in his statement.

“I sincerely believe that with students as collaborators in ministry many more people will come to encounter Christ and be transformed in a more personal way.”

One of the Josephites’ many Nigerian vocations in recent years, Jerome is also celebrating another milestone as well: he became an American citizen this May.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, in priesthood formation with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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