Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa presented a proclamation Feb. 21 recognizing St. Theresa of Avila School for 60 years of providing a Catholic education to the people of Ascension Parish.
According to the proclamation, Archbishop Joseph Rummel urged the Rev. Arthur Lieux to build a parochial school at St. Theresa of Avila in Gonzales in 1957. O.J. Daigle chaired a committee that raised $93,000 to build the school.
In January 1958, Lieux secured the support of the Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament to staff the school, and construction began on Dec. 28, 1958. The Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament were principals, assistant principals, teachers, aides and nursery workers. This order of nuns was present from 1959 to 2014, according to a news release.
St. Theresa of Avila School opened with four grades in 1959, with Sister Maria Immaculata serving as the first principal, and four Sisters of MHS staffing the school; there was an initial enrollment of 276 students in four grades. In 1966, St. Theresa became a junior high school with Sister Maria Rosaria as the second principal; and in 1973, St. Theresa became an inter-parochial school when St. Mark church parish was established.
As the population in Ascension Parish grew and the demand for Catholic education rose, St. Theresa opened a third section of kindergarten in 1981, and a feasibility expansion study began with six pastors representing Holy Rosary, St. Anne, St. Anthony, St. Gabriel, St. John, St. Mark and St. Theresa. A plan was formulated in 2001 for St. John the Evangelist in Prairieville to allow a pre-K program to move into its education center; a temporary partnership was established for the school years between 2003-2008 in order to provide time for a permanent solution for the increasing enrollment demands; in 2004 four classes of kindergarten were moved to St. John and the school program was named St. Theresa Early Learning Center, then becoming St. John Primary in 2006; Christine Musso has been principal of St. Theresa since 2005.