Rummel, Chapelle ignited Catholic education in EJ

Archbishop Chapelle and Archbishop Rummel high schools reached a milestone this year – 50 years of offering Catholic education in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

To celebrate, both schools held a joint Mass Nov. 19 celebrated by Archbishop Gregory Aymond at St. Louis Cathedral. Each also had separate receptions with former students, faculty and friends of the schools.

A host of activities has been scheduled to mark the yearlong commemoration of 50 years. It began last September with separate Masses celebrated Sept. 9 at Archbishop Rummel and Sept. 29 at Archbishop Chapelle, known as the “Deus Providebit” liturgy.

Strong education

Much has changed in this half century since Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel founded these two schools on the east bank of Jefferson Parish and Archbishops Shaw and Blenk on the West Bank, but the commitment to academic excellence and traditions remain strong.

 Archbishop Rummel touts educating more than 13,000 students over five decades. Archbishop Chapelle counts more than 11,000 graduates.

Jane Ann Frosch said the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word first taught at Archbishop Chapelle and established the school’s motto, “Deus Providebit.”

“God will provide permeates every prong of our existence,” Frosch said.

The Christian Brothers were the founding administrators at Archbishop Rummel High School and still are associated with the school, especially through the emphasis on service.

Principal Michael Scalco was jubilant at the Mass at the cathedral in November, the day after the football team was victorious in district play.

“They are part of what Raider pride is all about,” he said.

Abp. Rummel looked ahead

 Archbishop Aymond told attendees at the joint Mass what a visionary Archbishop Rummel was when he opened four high schools, beginning with a capital campaign in 1958.

“Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel had a dream and knew the difficulties that lay ahead, but he never gave up,” Aymond said. “He knew there would be a tough road ahead, but he invited others to work with him to make his dream a reality. ... Archbishop Rummel would be the first to admit that God gave him the strength to fulfill his dream.”

Growth of both schools

In 1962, a plot of land on Veterans became Archbishop Chapelle, with the Sisters of Charity welcoming 236 freshmen students. Simultaneously on Severn Avenue, the Christian Brothers welcomed 225 freshmen at Archbishop Rummel.

“In 50 years, many things have changed on both campuses (Veterans Boulevard is not new, cattle have disappeared),” Archbishop Aymond said. “In 50 years, many things have not changed. Standing on the heart of Archbishop Rummel, the founding mothers and fathers, we still have dedicated staff that have answered the vocation of Catholic education. ... Young men and women have chosen Catholic education and allowed their hearts to be formed. ... Parents have been willing to sacrifice for Catholic education to give the best to their children. ... (These) schools have a special spirit of family and teachers who care not because it is a job but because it is a vocation.”

Chapelle graduates excel

“We provide ... they succeed” is Chapelle’s motto, taken from the Latin, “Deus Providebit.” The school has been a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence three times and has been on the cutting edge of integrating technology with academics. In addition, Chapelle was named one of the 25 Most Innovative Catholic Schools in the Country by Today’s Catholic Teacher Magazine.

“Chapelle laid the academic and spiritual foundation of my life,” said Laura Becker, a member of the first graduating class of 1966. “What they gave us has continued. What I learned I use as a guidance counselor with my own students.”

Archbishop Chapelle eighth grader Molly Rosato followed in the footsteps of her mother, Laurie Steward Rosato, to attend Chapelle.

“The teachers are friendly and nice, and there is a club for everyone,” she said. “The campus ministry makes you want to go to Mass more and pray more. Some of the same teachers taught my mom and will teach me.”

Chapelle has held several liturgies, a sock hop for students, an anniversary reception and jubilee Mass, an alumna day of service Jan. 6 and on-campus rally on Jan. 28. Upcoming is a Founder’s Day liturgy celebrated by Archbishop Aymond on March 21 and the Emerald Gala “Celebrating 50 Years.”

Rummel holds its values dear

Raider Pride runs deeply in students. Lou Reynolds, Archbishop Rummel class of 1974, played football just as did his son Matt, a 2007 graduate now studying sports medicine at LSU. He will never forget how the Rummel community rallied around his family when their house burned down. He said head football coach Don Perret was an inspiration for him in high school both in faith and commitment.

“There’s not a day in my life I don’t think of something I learned at Rummel,” Reynolds said. “It meant a lot to me when I went there. The coaches referred to us as men. It was the first time someone referred to me as a man. ... Rummel has been a family to us.”

Kenner Chief of Police Steve Caraway, also class of 1974, has two Rummel graduates – sons Clayton Pistorius (2005) and Joey Pistorius (2007).

“The values that were instilled in all graduates regardless of what you chose to do in life (were invaluable),” Caraway said. “It had such a significant impact in my life. It’s like a fraternity that you are always part of. The ones who chose to live by these values will succeed.”  

Looking ahead

Archbishop Aymond asked leaders of both schools not to sit on their laurels.

“Where is God leading you in the future, in the next decade?” Archbishop Aymond asked at the Mass. “We are here to ask God’s vision and enlightenment to know where God is leading you in the next decade. ... You should have the same courage as Archbishop Rummel did. ... Don’t avoid challenges. We thank God for the dream of Archbishop Rummel.”

Christine Bordelon can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .