Bishop’s Hurricanes Relief Tuition Fund Established 

By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles 

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Lake Charles have served as an example of faith, hope and resilience in recent months after being struck by two major hurricanes in 2020 — Hurricane Laura on August 27 and Hurricane Delta on October 9. 

A top priority for Bishop Glen John Provost was the reopening of Catholic schools, and he recognized the Catholic community’s obligation to help those greatly affected by the storms. 

The Bishop’s Hurricanes Relief Tuition Fund has been set up to assist families of current students who have experienced losses from Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Due to a generous donation, Bishop Provost will match up to $500,000 of donations collected. 

Struck by the damages suffered by so many families to their homes, Bishop Provost said an essential concern is those with students currently enrolled in Catholic schools in the diocese. 

“We, as a Catholic community, want to reach out to families who have been left homeless or with uninsured losses or with overwhelming expenses for repairing their homes,” said Bishop Provost. “These circumstances are particularly burdensome when impacting families with children in our schools. We have an obligation to help.” 

While the concept of tuition aid in the Diocese of Lake Charles is not new, what is new about the Bishop’s Hurricanes Relief Tuition Fund is the concept of matching funds. The idea was suggested to the bishop by the donors. 

When asked how he has been inspired by the challenges the Catholic schools have had to overcome, Bishop Provost shared details of a visit in November by a bishop friend whose diocese was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. 

“Among the many destroyed and damaged properties, I took him to visit two of our schools, St. Louis Catholic High and St. Margaret. Both schools had already installed temporary buildings and had resumed classes by mid-October. He thought this was phenomenal. From his own experiences, he knew the obstacles and was most impressed with the speed and determination with which the Diocese of Lake Charles and school communities were addressing the recovery against overwhelming odds. Our Catholic schools are courageous.” 

Bishop Provost emphasized that Catholic schools are “alive and well” in the diocese, noting that Our Lady Immaculate School in Jennings re-opened on the Monday following Hurricane Laura with relatively no damage. 

“Schools that were seriously damaged — St. Margaret, Our Lady’s School, and St. Louis Catholic High School — hit the ground running and re-opened in a few weeks,” said the bishop. “The schools with lesser damage — Immaculate Conception Cathedral School and Our Lady Queen of Heaven — re-opened very soon once they had stabilized their facilities. The principals are a positive group who have embraced the challenges with openness and creativity.” 

Kimberlee Gazzolo, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said, “In the very first days after Hurricane Laura, I was heartened and grateful at entire communities that came out to help with mitigation and clean-up on the school campuses. I was acutely aware that those in the community had also suffered losses but set that aside to help their schools.” 

Mrs. Gazzolo encourages anyone who can to consider making a donation to the tuition relief fund. 

“No donation is too small, and every donation can make a difference in a child being able to continue to receive a Catholic education,” Gazzolo said. “The history of our schools and the success of our students have proven that Catholic education is a gift, not only to the students, but to our community and to our Church.” 

To make a one-time or recurring donation, visit http://www.lcdiocese.org/resources/support-the-diocese, and click on The Bishop’s Hurricanes Relief Tuition Fund.