The History of Little Flower School/Academy
In 1933, his Excellency Daniel F. Desmond of Boston Massachusetts was consecrated as Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana. At that time there were only a handful of Black Catholics in Monroe, Louisiana. Bishop Desmond decided to establish a Catholic Parish to minister to the spiritual needs of the Black community. In 1939 the Breard family donated several lots of land for the new Catholic Church. In 1940, Father Anselm Bechamp, OFM was appointed pastor to the newly established church. On February 11, 1940, the first mass was offered in the small frame church on 18th street under the patronage of St. Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus. There were thirteen people in attendance.
On September 29, 1941, Little Flower of Jesus School opened its doors to 110 students in kindergarten through grade four, with the help of four Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
During the rest of the 1940’s and 1950’s, Little Flower Church and school continued to grow. In 1956, assistant pastor, Father Ardwin Hiller, CFM was appointed pastor. After months of searching for land, ten acres were found at the current location of 600 South 16th Street in Monroe. Little Flower’s gymnasium was dedicated on May 1, 1959. The two school buildings including both elementary and high school grades were completed in 1961 and dedicated on September 28th of the same year.
In 1968 the high school was closed. The students were encouraged to transfer to the newly built St. Frederick High School. Father John Eaton stepped in as principal and pastor o keep the school in operation. Father John served as principal for three years. Mr. Sammy Goldsmith, a parishioner and retired administrator from the public school system was hired as the first principal of Little Flower Academy.
On October 9, 1971, Brother Gordon Hayes, CFM, a son of the parish, made the Solemn Vows as a Franciscan of the Sacred Heart Providence.
In the 1970’s 80’s and 90’s, the school struggled under increasing financial challenges. The Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help had fewer sisters available to teach and the beloved Sister Consuella, who had been principal in the high school and grade school, was replaced. The last Franciscan sister teaching in the school was transferred in the summer of 1995.
In August of 1998 the Little Flower Academy Grade School closed, but the pre-school program for the three- and four-year-old students remained.
Timeline of Little Flower Church & School Academy
1939– Bishop Daniel F. Desmond, Bishop of Alexandria, began to plan for a Catholic Church to serve the Black community of Monroe, La.
February 11, 1940– Fr. Anselm Reckamp, OFM celebrated Mass for the first time in a small frame church on 18th Street, under the patronage of “The Little Flower of Jesus” (St. Therese of Lisieux).
September 29, 1941– Four Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help helped open Little Flower of Jesus School with 110 students.
June 30, 1942- Fire destroyed the church and part of the priest’s home. The new church was ready for use in September 1942.
July 18, 1944- A tornado destroyed the new school addition being built. Four days later, Fr. Patrick O’Brien OFM was assigned as assistant pastor, making his mark on the school where he was the basketball coach.
Summer of 1945- Fr. Clement Martin, OFM was appointed Pastor for nine years. During this time, the high school began and the number of Franciscan Sisters on staff grew to thirteen. The student body in 1952 numbered 554.
Summer of 1954- Fr. Ardwin Miller, OFM was appointed Pastor and he began looking for a larger plant for the church and school.
September 1958- The Sister’s Convent, the first building on the new campus on 16th Street was completed. In 1959, the gym and school building were completed.
September 1965- Bishop Charles P. Greco dedicated the new church building.
1968- The high school division of Little Flower Academy was closed, and the students were encouraged to transfer to the newly built Diocesan St. Frederick High school.
October 9, 1971- Bro. Gordon Hayes, OFM a son of the parish, made his Solemn Vows as a Franciscan of the Sacred Heart Province.
1970’s-90’s- Little Flower Church and School struggles under increasing financial challenges. The Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help had fewer sisters available to teach and the beloved Sr. Consuella, who had been principal in the high school and the grade school, was replaced. In the 1990’s, Fr. John Eaton served as pastor and principal for a number of years. The last Franciscan Sister teaching in the school was transferred in the summer of 1995.