Diocese of Lake Charles
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American to be declared a saint, established the first Catholic school in the nation in 1809. Today, there are 5,981 Catholic schools in the U.S., six of which are in the Diocese of Lake Charles. Those schools will join others across the country January 30 – February 5 to celebrate National Catholic Schools Week.
Throughout the school year, Bishop Glen John Provost makes annual visits to the six schools and is aware of the eagerness on the part of the students to learn and their openness to instruction.
“The Catholic students I meet are enthusiastic. They are excited about being in a classroom,” Bishop Provost observed. “They want knowledge, which includes knowing Jesus Christ Himself. This, in my opinion, is the hallmark of Catholic students.”
Kimberlee Gazzolo, Superintendent in the Diocese of Lake Charles, said that Catholic Schools Week is the perfect time to celebrate the gift of a Catholic education.
“Through the sacrifice of parents, the dedication of Catholic school employees and the support of religious and clergy, students of Catholic schools will emerge as strong members of their communities living their faith on a daily basis,” said Gazzolo.
Catholic schools are committed to the development of the whole person — mind, body and spirt.
“Students not only learn the tenets of the Catholic faith, but their entire spiritual and academic formation is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Gazzolo continued. “Students celebrate Mass weekly and participate in a variety of liturgical celebrations. Each school’s Religious Education department plans time for Eucharistic Adoration, prayer, and celebration of Holy Days of Obligation.”
The mission of Catholic education is to prepare the student to face the challenges of the future as a Catholic Christian, firmly rooted in the faith filled with hope, and living charity. Bishop Provost said that the key to formation of students as disciples in Christ is the teacher.
“The one who instructs must imitate Christ in a special way,” he said. “Students learn as much, if not more, from example than by words, although verbalization is necessary. It is a total picture. The more Christ-like the teacher, the more likely the student will imitate Christ.”
Catholic Schools offer an opportunity with an approach to education which is, as Bishop Provost describes, “unapologetically Catholic and Christian.”
“The world is a challenging place,” the bishop continued. “However, the leaders of the Catholic School community — the administrators and teachers, primarily — must always strive to achieve an environment which fosters the growth of our youth in sound Catholic teaching and Christian values.”
To highlight Catholic Schools Week, Bishop Provost will be the celebrant for a school Mass for St. Louis Catholic High School seniors at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 2, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Here is a look at each of the six Catholic schools in the Diocese of Lake Charles:
St. Louis Catholic High School
- Address: 1620 Bank Street, Lake Charles
• Contact: 337-436-7275
• Website: www.slchs.org
• Founding history: St. Louis Catholic High School — the only Catholic high school in the Diocese of Lake Charles — was founded in 1971 when its parent institutions — St. Charles Academy, Landry Memorial, and Sacred Heart High School — came together. Since its commencement in 1971, more than 5,000 students have graduated from St. Louis High.
• Mission statement: Called as friends of Jesus Christ and led by the knowledge and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we gather to honor and praise God the Father. VISION- St. Louis and its community will be a light, rooted in our Catholic faith and bound together by our shared experiences. The education will be unmatched, and our Saints will share a camaraderie that, regardless of grade classification or group affiliation, will remain for a lifetime. Every graduate will excel spiritually, socially, and professionally as they remain positively tethered to St. Louis Catholic High School, a place they can always call home.
• Grade levels: 9th-12th
• Total enrollment: 565 students
• Patron: St. Louis King of France
• Mascot and Colors: Saints; Orange and Royal Blue
• Church Parish Affiliation: 16 owner parishes across the Diocese of Lake Charles
• From the Principal’s Desk: “St. Louis Catholic High School is a community of educators, students, parents, and alumni. It is a community of leaders, believers and, above all, a community of the faithful. At St. Louis, every student will receive a strong education, a place to belong and a firm foundation rooted in our Catholic faith. Whether you are a parent, a student, or an employee; whether you want a vibrant student life, a challenging college preparatory curriculum, a competitive sports program, a Christ-centered campus, or just to be part of the community — you belong at St. Louis Catholic High School.” — Mia Touchet, Principal
Immaculate Conception Cathedral School
- Address: 1536 Ryan Street, Lake Charles
• Contact: 337-433-3497
• Website: www.iccschool.org
• Year Founded: 1882; ICCS is the second successor to the Convent School that began in 1882
• Mission statement: Strengthening Spirits...Minds... Bodies...Through the Teachings of Jesus Christ.
• Grade levels: PK4-8th Grade
• Total enrollment: Approximately 385 students
• Patron: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
• Mascot and Colors: Panthers; Red and Black
• Church Parish Affiliation: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
• From the Principal’s Desk: “ICCS is committed to excellence in education where the spiritual development, academic growth, and physical well-being of our learners are central to our shared commitment and focus. Our highly qualified faculty and staff are called to prepare students for both the challenges and successes that await them and use project-based curriculum learning modules to provide challenging learning opportunities that foster reflection, revision, proof of thinking, and mastery of standards. At ICCS, we are driven by the model of Jesus to strengthen spirits, minds, and bodies in meaningful, challenging, and diverse ways.” — Blair Tadlock, Interim Principal
Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic School
- Address: 3908 Creole Street, Lake Charles
• Contact: 337-477-7349
• Website: www.olqhs.org
• Year Founded: Established in 1958 by Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church and shortly after guided by the School Sisters of Notre Dame
• Mission statement: Learning and Living the Good News; Fostering Academic Success for All Students
• Grade levels: PK-Grade 8; Early Childhood Center: 6 weeks old to 4 years
• Total enrollment: 647 students
• Patron: Our Lady Queen of Heaven
• Mascot and Colors: Barons; Navy and Light Blue
• Church Parish Affiliation: Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church
• From the Principal’s Desk: “Our Lady Queen of Heaven School is a faith-filled school community where the joy of Christ is celebrated each day. As a parish, we firmly believe that Catholic education begins at birth and we are grateful to work with parents in a life-long partnership, starting with our youngest students at our Early Childhood Center, as young as 6 weeks old. With each student, our focus is on developing the whole child, providing them with hands-on learning, leadership opportunities, and enrichment programs which help them to discover their unique and God-given gifts and talents. Fine arts, including band, choir, art, language are important experiences and opportunities for students, and our faculty truly believes in the importance of these programs. As education and technology continue to evolve, our teachers remain on the cutting edge, providing all students with continual support and the most innovative learning opportunities, which include a 1:1 program for our 7th and 8th graders. Above all else, our goal is to provide a faith-filled, safe, and loving community for our students and families, one in which they will call "home" for the rest of their lives.” — Trevor Donnelly, Principal
St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic School
- Address: 2510 Enterprise Boulevard, Lake Charles
• Contact: 337-436-7959
• Website: www.stmcs.com
• Year Founded: 1949 under the direction of the Reverend George A. Bodin and the Marianites of the Holy Cross
• Mission statement: Nurturing all children and achieving academic success through the spirit of Christ
• Grade levels: PK3-Grade 8
• Total enrollment: 287 students
• Patron: Saint Margaret of Scotland
• Mascot and Colors: Vikings; Blue and Gold
• Church Parish Affiliation: St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church
• From the Principal’s Desk: “At SMCS we pride ourselves in the fact that when students, families, and visitors walk through our doors, they feel the love and presence of God. We work very hard in providing our students with a strong educational foundation that is rooted in faith. We recite and apply the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ daily into our lessons, school programs, and clubs. We offer a variety of clubs and sports that encourage teamwork, discipline, dedication, and time-management, such as football, volleyball, track, and cheer, student council, recycling club, hospitality, morning helpers, inspirational leaders, and much more. Despite the very difficult couple of years we have endured, our families have remained loyal, faithful, and resilient. We are excited to continue expanding and welcoming new faces aboard our Viking Krewe.” — Wendy Wicke, Principal
Our Lady Immaculate Catholic School
- Address: 600 Roberts Avenue, Jennings
• Contact: 337-824-1743
• Website: www.olischool.org
• Year Founded: 1958 by the Terisian Sisters as Our Lady Help of Christians School under the direction of Mother Odette Daigle and Father Charles Marin
• Mission statement: Educating the mind and spirit with Opportunity, Leadership, and Integrity
• Grade levels: PK3-Grade 8
• Total enrollment: 210 students
• Patron: The Blessed Mother Mary
• Mascot and Colors: Crusader; Navy and White
• Church Parish Affiliation: Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church in Jennings (Note: students come from more than 15 church parishes)
• From the Principal’s Desk: “Our Lady Immaculate Catholic School is an exciting, educational environment infused with the Christian precepts taught and displayed by Jesus Christ. Our positive atmosphere is focused on teaching, learning and the production of future leaders, who embrace charity and service. OLI is unique in its location. We are the only Catholic School in Jeff Davis Parish. Our students come from six different civil parishes. It's really a beautiful thing to have people from near and far gathered because we all share the same faith and the same mission to educate both mind and spirit.” — David Dupuis, Principal
Our Lady’s Catholic School
- Address: 1111 Cypress Street, Sulphur
• Contact: 337-527-7828
• Website: www.olcs.org
• Year Founded: Built in 1952 on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Stelly, under the pastorate of Father Eugene Veillard. The school went into operation in the 1954 school term under the administration of Father Paul E. Denis. Our Lady’s School was the first parochial school in the Diocese of Lafayette to open, staffed by all lay teachers with no nuns in residence.
• Mission statement: Building the future of all students through the grace of God and academic excellence. We are dedicated to developing the total child.
• Grade levels: PK3-Grade 8
• Total enrollment: 247 students
• Patron: The Blessed Mother Mary
• Mascot and Colors: Tiger – named PAWS; Royal Blue and White
• Church Parish Affiliation: Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of LaSalette, all in Sulphur; St. Theresa in Carlyss; St. Joseph in Vinton; and St. John Bosco in Westlake
• From the Principal’s Desk: “The charism of Our Lady’s School is our faith. Our little Catholic school has big faith that never seems to fail. We have, literally, lost our physical structure while never losing our spiritual strength. The students, families, and faculty of Our Lady’s School are a perfect example of unconditional love and faith. We are a family. Families stay hopeful and remain faithful while never giving up or turning away. We have learned to keep our faith and trust in our Lord and Blessed Mother for the protection and guidance that keeps Our Lady’s School so special!” — Nichole Tanner, Interim Principal
Follow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lake Charles Facebook page for more highlights during National Catholic Schools Week.