Xavier University of Louisiana Acquires the Archives of Bishop Fernard Cheri III

The Archives and Special Collections unit at the library of historically Black Xavier University in New Orleans has announced that it has been selected to house the archival collection of one of the university’s distinguished graduates, Bishop Fernand Cheri, III. Bishop Cheri died earlier this year at the age of 71.

The Bishop Cheri collection is an important addition to the archives and a resource for students of church history. A native of New Orleans, Bishop Cheri was ordained into the priesthood in 1978 and ordained as an auxiliary bishop in 2015. The Bishop Cheri collection contains many personal and sacred effects of the late bishop. As the only historically Black and Catholic university in the country, Xavier University of Louisiana was chosen by the family of Bishop Cheri to serve as its permanent repository due to its dedication to the education of Black Catholics, as well as it being Bishop Cheri’s alma mater. Bishop Cheri received his master’s degree in theology in 1994 through Xavier University’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies.

Music was so integral to Bishop Cheri’s ministry that much of the collection is comprised of the music. The collection includes about 7,000 CDs. Other items in the collection include Bishop Cheri’s personal vestments and items of significance to his ministry, such as his miter, crozier, and ring. The collection also includes photos of significant moments in Bishop Cheri’s journey as a priest and bishop, including his ordination and his meeting with Pope Francis. Bishop Cheri was an avid collector of Black and African artwork and artifacts, and several of these pieces are included in the collection, along with numerous awards and proclamations Bishop Cheri received from various organizations and institutions.

“This gift from the family of Bishop Cheri will enhance Xavier’s teaching, scholarship, and Special Collections for decades,” said Nancy Hampton, interim library director at Xavier University. “Students attending Xavier’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies will especially benefit from studying his music, sermons, and photographs.”

Xavier University of Louisiana maintains and preserves a vast collection of archival material detailing the storied and tumultuous history of the university, as well as the history of the Greater New Orleans area and African American heritage in the Gulf South Region.

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