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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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The Marianites of Holy Cross spend over 145 years in South Central Louisiana

The Marianites of Holy Cross spend over 145 years in South Central Louisiana


Last year the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross celebrated the 175th anniversary of their founding in Le Mans, France.

From this beginning on August 4, 1841, grew three branches of Holy Cross women: the Marianites of Holy Cross, Sisters of Holy Cross and Sisters of the Holy Cross.

I am a little late in writing this article but I wanted to congratulate the Marianites Sisters and thank them for the positive effects they have had on our local communities.

Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, the founder of the religious order, and Mother Mary of the Seven Dolors, the first sister and cofounder, stressed the importance of reaching out to women and men to be a catalyst for the “work of resurrection” that Holy Cross would undertake.

Their ultimate goal as Marianites of Holy Cross – indeed the goal of all Christians – is to let Christ be formed in everyone. The Marianites give their lives to Jesus on a daily basis, and Jesus helps them to become more like him. They labor so that Jesus may be formed in all God’s people. Through prayer and study, worship and service, they make choices about what is the priority in their lives.

The Marianites make choices each day guided by their Constitutions and the teachings and counsels of the Gospel about what god they will worship and serve. Their lifelong endeavor is to be like Christ, to make decisions in the way Jesus made them, to be fully dedicated to serving the true God, to choose Life.

Whereas most of the early work of the sisters dealt with the education of the young and serving in hospital ministries, today they are also involved in social work, parish ministry and community service. They stand united with Mary at the foot of the Cross as they work for peace and justice for all, especially those who are excluded.

As early as 1870, the Marianites of Holy Cross acquired the Houma Academy and opened the first Catholic School in Terrebonne Parish. The school originally was founded in 1858 by a group of men who wanted to provide better education for the children in the area. However, the young school experienced financial problems and was turned over the reins to the Sisters.

On October 11, 1870, the school opened its doors to 25 students, all girls. In 1879, St. Francis de Sales School has its first graduate, Ms. Rose Cuneo. In 1890, boys were admitted. However, the boys’ school was on the same property as the church whereas the girls’ school was originally on Pointe St.

The Marianites continued to pass on their gifts of spirituality and religious education. Beside running St. Francis de Sales School for more than a 100 years, they also took a leadership role as Superintendent of School for the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese. The Sisters’ long history at the Cathedral parish and school sadly came to a close in 2011 as the last Marianite sister, Sr. Immaculata Paisant, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, retired from her position and returned to New Orleans, LA. In 2014, the diocese hired Sr. Carmelita Centanni, MSC, Ph.D, as the Victims’ Assistant Coordinator.

The Marianites also had established a school at Sacred Heart Church in the Morgan City, LA on September 4, 1893 when five Marianite sisters from New Orleans arrived. In 1957, the school moved to the present physical plant that now houses Holy Cross Elementary and Central Catholic High School. In 1964, a new Church parish named Holy Cross was created in Morgan City and the elementary school became Holy Cross School. The last Marianite left in the 90’s.

The Marianites established others schools in South Louisiana such as in Franklin, Plaquemine, Ville Platt, Arnaudville, Opelousas, and Lake Charles. They leave behind a rich tradition.