LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Bishop Glen John Provost has accepted the Board of Pastors’ decision to relocate Saint Louis Catholic, the Diocese of Lake Charles said in a statement.
The Diocese plans to move St. Louis from its current downtown location to the new Morganfield Subdivision, southeast of Lake Charles. The St. Louis campus was heavily damaged during Hurricane Laura.
The plans to relocate were met with some debate from supporters of the current location and those who want to move the school.
Just minutes before planning to speak at the Lake Charles City Council meeting on Wednesday night, attorney Michael Veron heard the decision had been announced by the Diocese.
“Frankly, it’s [no one’s] business where Saint Louis chooses to locate, but we’re here in city council chambers because there’s apparently a resolution on the agenda,” Veron said. “I find that remarkable. There’s a constitutional law between separation of church and state, but apparently people in the city council didn’t take civics.”
The discussion was scrapped as the Diocese of Lake Charles released this statement:
“The Board of Pastors recommends that Saint Louis Catholic High School be rebuilt contingent on funding. If requisite funding is not available, the Board of Pastors will not encumber their parishes financially. The Board of Pastors also recommends that Saint Louis Catholic High School relocates based upon the aforementioned conditions. The Bishop accepts both recommendations.”
“Whatever the outcome, an ad hoc committee consisting of neighborhood stakeholders, diocesan clergy, and community members will study the future of the Bank Street property and make recommendations to the Board of Pastors and the Bishop.”
St. Louis Principal Mia Touchet released the following statement:
“Today we celebrate the decision that our Bishop and Board of Pastors made to support St. Louis Catholic High School students of today and those Saints of the future. We are excited to begin moving forward with our vision for the next 50 years. Our approval of FEMA funds is a blessing. We are diligently working with consultants to secure those funds as quickly as possible. The passion and love for St Louis Catholic High School continues to inspire our journey. We look forward to sharing the next exciting steps. THE DREAM BEGINS NOW!”
That statement angered some in the community who believe the downtown location is hallowed ground.
“There is so much history and tradition with Saint Louis and that is only found on Bank Street,” said former educator Rachael Lancon. “It’s not going to go with it when it moves to a brand new building in a field off Hwy 14!”
However, some members of the Saint Louis community who support the move say the school is on an antiquated campus, limiting potential.
“It’s very unfortunate to watch your children and your grandchildren’s education being made into a political football,” Veron said. “It’s what’s best for the kids, and there’s no doubt a new, bigger and better school is best for the kids.”
Others claim Southeast Lake Charles will not provide answers to the problem. It could create complications.
“They’re looking at maybe a big, bright and shiny building, brand new,” Lancon said. “They will not get the athletic field and all of that with the move. That will have to be possibly an increase in tuition.”
The Diocese says a committee will study the future of the Bank Street location and make recommendations. No timeline has been announced.