Jesuit Brothers (SJ)
In 1837, Jesuit Fathers from France sent a group of men to undertake educational work in Louisiana. Sites in St. Gabriel, Mandeville, and Donaldsonville were all rejected in favor of Grand Coteau, and it was there that the Jesuits established St. Charles College, the first permanent Catholic college for boys. Today, St. Charles continues to serve the area as a Jesuit novitiate and retreat center.
Brothers of the Christian Schools (FSC)
Founded by St. John the Baptist de LaSalle, the people of the Lafayette Diocese continue to receive the benefits of the work that has been done by these brothers. They have served as Christian educators, and continue to conduct an active prayer ministry even during their retirement years.
Benedictine Brothers (OSB)
The presence of the Monastery of the Mother of the Redeemer in Opelousas ensures that citizens of the Lafayette Diocese can continue to experience the Benedictine charism of prayer and work.
Franciscan Brothers (OFM)
Today, the Franciscan parish ministry at St. Paul Church in Lafayette continues to represent the order.
Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ)
Founded by St. Madeleine Sophie Barat and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, the order of the Religious of the Sacred Heart were the first religious congregation of women to arrive in southwest Louisiana—the geographical area in which the Diocese of Lafayette is located. Mother Eugenie Aude and several companions were sent by Blessed Philippine Duchesne in the year 1821, for the purpose of establishing the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau. The women traveled by steamer down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, and from there made their way to Grand Coteau. The school, whose first five pupils registered in October 1821, has been in continuous existence now for more than 180 years.
The all girls’ school currently serves students from grades pre-school through 12. In recent years, St. John Berchman’s School for boys has also been established alongside the Academy.
Sisters of Mt. Carmel (O.Carm)
In 1846, the Sisters of Mount Carmel were invited to establish a school in Lafayette. Led by Mother St. Paul Aucoin, it is said that they arrived with their personal belongings tied in their black aprons, and whatever they needed was shipped to them in a sugar barrel. They opened the school with eight pupils in September of that same year.
Marianites of Holy Cross (MSC)
The Marianites came to Opelousas in 1856, to establish what was first called St. Mary’s Academy but later became known as the Academy of the Immaculate Conception. The sisters were recalled from the area in 1861, due to the outbreak of the Civil War, but they later returned.
They opened St. John’s Academy in Franklin in 1871, and St. Joseph School in La Jonction (today known as Arnaudville) in 1891. This school was given up in 1919, but they returned to Arnaudville in 1947. They were also responsible for opening St. Edmund School in Eunice in 1911.
Today, the Marianites minister to the elderly by helping to provide independent living through C’est La Vie Apartments for Seniors, as well as operating a full nursing and pastoral care at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Facility in Opelousas. They are also active in retreat work at the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau, in adult education in New Iberia, in elementary education in Gueydan and Crowley, and in administration in the diocesan Office for Religious in Lafayette.
Sisters of the Holy Family (SSF)
The Sisters of the Holy Family were founded by a Louisiana native, Mother Henriette Delille. In 1872, they opened a school in Grand Coteau, and another in Opelousas two years later. They also opened a school in Lafayette in 1903, and were placed in charge of Holy Rosary Institute there in 1913. Today, they remain active in pastoral care and education ministry in Opelousas, Lafayette, and Ville Platte.
Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament (MHS)
The order of Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament was founded by Father Ignatius Faller; the sisters began their work in the Lafayette Diocese when they arrived in Breaux Bridge in 1892. For a time, they conducted a school for African American children in St. Francis Parish, until it was taken over by the Sisters of the Holy Family in 1921. Presently, the sisters offer their services to the elderly through Bethany MHS Health Care Center in Lafayette. They also serve in education, pastoral care, and as catechetical ministers in Lafayette, Crowley, and Roberts Cove.
Sisters of Divine Providence (CDP)
Founded by Blessed John Martin Moye, the Sisters of Divine Providence began their educational work in the Lafayette Diocese when they assumed the direction of St. Cecilia School in Broussard. Later, the pastor in Iota invited them to open St. Francis School in 1916, and in 1950 they took over St. Genevieve School in Lafayette (St. Genevieve’s originally opened in 1945, under the direction of the Sisters of Mount Carmel.). Today, the sisters continue to serve in the Eunice and Lafayette areas as they are needed.
Just after his ordination as the first bishop of the Lafayette diocese in 1918, Bishop Jules B. Jeanmard invited the Discalced Carmelites to establish a monastery in the new diocese; however, they were unable to accept his invitation until 1936. The first monastery was located on College Avenue, but it was replaced in 1957 by the one which still exists along Carmel Avenue (formerly known as the Lafayette/Breaux Bridge Highway).
Eucharistic Missionaries of St. Dominic (OP)
The order arrived in the Lafayette Diocese in 1935, in order to teach catechism and work among the rural parishes in the area. Today, they are still present in the community of Duson.
The Franciscan sisters came to Lafayette in 1950, with the establishment of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. The diocese is privileged to benefit from the excellent health care provided by this facility, and the sisters have continued their outreach efforts to the homeless, low-income individuals and families, and those without health insurance.
School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND)
The School Sisters of Notre Dame arrived in the area during the 1980’s, in order to do social, educational, and administrative work in various church parishes and the diocesan chancery. They continue to serve today as adult educators in New Iberia, and have provided crucial help in diocesan efforts during hurricane recovery.
Missionaries of Charity (MC)
Founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the sisters came to Lafayette in 1986, when Mother Teresa herself addressed a capacity gathering in the Cajundome. They continue to reside in Lafayette, conducting catechetical work, home visiting, nursing home visits, and social work among the poor.
Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows (OLS)
Founded by Blessed Elisabetta Renzi, the sisters focus their presence in the Lafayette Diocese by assisting with Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Student Center on the ULL campus.
Sisters of Providence (SP)
Founded by St. Theodore Guerin, the sisters maintain their presence in the Lafayette Diocese through Southern Mutual Help Organization in New Iberia.
Sisters of the Holy Spirit (SHSp)
Founded by Sister Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy, the sisters focus their works in the Lafayette Diocese around the area of Lebeau.