Mission and Identity

5. Service to the Local Church

We believe that a vibrant Catholic religious identity is fostered through experiences of the cultural and theological diversity within Catholicism itself as well as through deep personal engagement with perennial questions across the whole range of human experience and global religious traditions. The core requirements in theology and philosophy introduce students of every background to the breadth of the Catholic intellectual and spiritual tradition, and engage our Catholic students in a rigorous exploration of their faith and spirituality. We affirm with the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola that one of the most important aims of a Jesuit education is "to praise, reverence, and serve God." (Seeking Integration and Wisdom, para. 40)

Programs and Resources

Bellarmine Chapel: The on-campus chapel serves as an active parish within the Archdiocese.

Catholic Schools: As a Catholic institution of higher education, Xavier highly values its relationships with area Catholic K-12 schools. In addition to recruiting students from local Catholic schools and having agreements with these schools to place education students there for field experiences, the University has undertaken several initiatives that speak to this commitment:

  • In 2003, with funding from the Clement and Ann Buenger Foundation and in partnership with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Xavier launched an initiative to develop leadership and strengthen science and mathematics programs at local Catholic elementary schools. This highly successful program, The Initiative for Catholic Schools, has provided administrators and teachers at over 100 Catholic schools in Cincinnati and Covington, Ky., with the training and tools they need to lead their institutions and teach their students more effectively.
  • In 2007, Xavier created the Center for Catholic Education as an expansion of the Initiative for Catholic Schools. The Center acts as a catalyst for change in local Catholic schools, focusing on helping diocesan schools assess needs, plan strategically for the future, market effectively, professionally develop their teachers and administrators, and implement changes that ensure long-term stability and growth. The Center's goal is to reach every school in the Archdiocese as well as the Diocese of Covington, strengthening the development of Catholic education locally.
  • In 2008, Xavier started a Master of Education program that offers scholarships for teachers and administrators at Catholic schools to take graduate education courses focusing on Catholic Education.


Parishes: Theology department faculty are frequently invited to present lectures, retreats and workshops in their areas of expertise at diocesan parishes ranging from greater Cincinnati to Dayton and well beyond the local diocese to church communities and diocesan initiatives out-of-state. For instance, Theology Professor Chris Pramuk, PhD, offered a day-long workshop on race for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Likewise a number of theology department classes, both undergraduate and graduate, involve immersion and/or service trips into parishes of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, building relational bridges between faculty and students and ordinary Catholics and their pastoral leaders in the community.

In addition, the newly launched Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice offers numerous classes, workshops and opportunities for continuing education (including CPE) for teachers, lay ministers and other pastoral staff in Cincinnati. The institute is continuously building relationships with grassroots churches and outreach workers in hopes of offering programs to serve these communities, especially the poor and marginalized. Likewise, classes and workshops are offered with an explicitly interfaith and ecumenical perspective, seeking to build relationships of friendship and collaboration across Christian denominations as well as non-Christian religious traditions. The Institute offers master's degrees in theology with specializations in three tracks:

  • Ethics, Spirituality and Professional Practice
  • Solidarity and Sustainability in a Global Context
  • Applied Spirituality and Pastoral Care


JesuitResource.org: Xavier's Jesuit Catholic resources website was recognized in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's publication, the Catholic Telegraph, as a "valuable resource to the general public for a variety of prayers, reflections, quotes, keynote addresses and other information on Jesuit spirituality and Catholicism." (Catholic Telegraph, August 2015)

Campus events in 2015-2016 that reflect Xavier's commitment to community education and outreach include:

Relationship with the Local Ordinary

By virtue of the open lines of communication that exist, President Graham has regular communication and, at least, an annual meeting with Archbishop Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr. On occasion, the theology department has dinner with the Archbishop to discuss various topics.

Also, Xavier invites Archbishop Schnurr to take part in various on-campus activities throughout the year, including student events such as presiding annually at the "Holy Power Hour" Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Benediction. Xavier provides support and collaboration on programs with the Archdiocese during the Year of Faith and Year of Mercy. And the University supports the Archdiocesan fundraising campaign gathering sessions.

Xavier has served as a leader in the collaboration between the Archdiocese and other faiths, and has hosted several national and Archdiocesan conferences and celebrations including:

  • The United States Catholic Mission Association, 2016.
  • The triannual Jesuit School Network's Colloquium on Ignatian Education, 2016.
  • The Archdiocesan Catholic Youth Conference, 2014.
  • The Archdiocese Celebrates March on Washington Celebration, 2013.
  • The Archdiocese Celebrates Pacem In Terris for high school students, 2013.

In support of the ministerial and liturgical life of the Archdiocese, Jesuits at Xavier, including President Graham, are actively involved with local parishes on a regular basis to preside at Sunday Masses and sacramental ministry. In addition, Jesuits regularly assist local parishes with reconciliation services and provide regular sacramental care for local retirement homes.

Preparation of Next Generation of Catholic Intellectual Leaders

The Department of Theology offers a strong undergraduate curriculum for students. It offers a Religious Education Minor to prepare theology majors to meet the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's professional requirements for Catholic High School Religion Teacher Certification. Moreover, it supports the curriculum of the Catholicism and Culture Minor and other areas of high specificity to Catholic social teaching such as the Peace Studies minor, and graduate and undergraduate majors and minors in environmental sustainability.

External Recognition

An internationally acclaimed exhibit, A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People, was created in 2005 at Xavier University. It includes photos, video footage, documents and artifacts recording the contributions of Pope John Paul II to relations between the Catholic and Jewish faiths. Visitors experience the 20th century through the eyes and experiences of the pope including his childhood in Wadowice, Poland, his experience of World War II and the Holocaust, his years as a young priest in Krakow, and his papacy. After its inaugural run in Cincinnati, honoring the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the exhibit moved to the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., now The Saint John Paul II National Shrine, where it was on display until 2006. From there it moved to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. It has since toured the United States for 10 years exhibiting at venues equally divided between Catholic and Jewish institutions. The exhibit has been visited by more than 1 million people. It opened at the Vatican Museum on July 28, 2015, honoring the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, and included a new piece on his canonization. In Rome, it was announced that the exhibit would be permanently housed in the John Paul II Center in Krakow, Poland.

Xavier has served as convener of community partners on a number of additional events honoring Nostra Aetate (see 5: Programs and Events) that include representatives and supporters from:

  • The American Jewish Committee
  • The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati
  • Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
  • The Islamic Mosque of Clifton
  • The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education
  • The Archdiocese of Cincinnati
  • The Jewish Community Relations Council
  • Bellarmine Chapel
  • Catholic Studies at the University of Cincinnati
  • Xavier's Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice
  • The Ethics/ Religion and Society Concentration
  • The Center for Diversity and Inclusion
  • The Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice
  • Gender and Diversity Studies
  • Mission and Identity
  • Theology Department
  • Women of Excellence


Moreover, Xavier's Dr. James Buchannan has offered expert commentary both locally and nationally: