History of Catholic Education in Houma

Catholic Education in Houma has a very interesting historical record. On August 3, 1858, six Terrebonne citizens recorded officially their intention to establish a school to be called the Houma Academy. They built the beautiful Houma Academy that stood for many years on Point Street. It was a daring spirit of enterprise on the part of these six men who incorporated their intentions in a legal document to establish private education in Houma.

Archival Photo of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral School

Their good will, however, could not assure the success of the Academy. The well-proportioned antebellum building with twelve rooms, topped with a cupola, and fronted with a balustrade in the front was a fitting monument to their intent. Perhaps this building was too large for the needs of the time and place. Moreover, during the Civil War years the Academy mortgages exceeded $3,500.00.

This Houma Academy was taken over as the foundation for a new school by the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross in 1870. This is, in fact, the foundation of Catholic Education in the Houma-Terrebonne area; it was the beginning of St. Francis de Sales School.

For the first twenty years, the Sisters taught only girls; in 1890, a boys' school was opened and also staffed by the Marianites. The setting of the boys’ school for decades was a wood-framed, two-story building on the site of the present parish youth center and rectory. It served its purpose as an elementary school building until the new St. Francis de Sales School was planned by Msgr. Lucien J. Caillouet, begun by Bishop Maurice Schexnayder, and completed in the early years of Msgr. Joseph Wester at a cost of $650,000. Students walked from the two "old" buildings to the present building in January 1951.

The efforts of the Marianite Sisters in Houma were reinforced in 1952 with the arrival of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. The old academy on Point Street became a 7 - 12 high school for boys until the completion of the co-educational Houma Central Catholic High School (HCCH) in the fall of 1965. HCCH was renamed in 1966 in honor of Father August Vandebilt for his support of local Catholic education.

The noble history of Catholic Education in the Houma-Terrebonne area continues today in the same spirit with which it began nearly 152 years ago.