Xavier's Francis kicks off Holy Rosary capital campaign

by Leslie Turk

Xavier President Norman Francis is the keynote speaker for a Sunday, Feb. 26, fundraiser to restore Holy Rosary Institute.

One of the nation's most respected educators, Dr. Norman Francis, president of Xavier University in New Orleans, will be the keynote speaker at a Sunday, Feb. 26, fundraiser that will launch the capital campaign to restore the Holy Rosary Institute main classroom building.

Holy Rosary Redevelopment will be hosting the fundraiser at the Petroleum Club in Lafayette at 6:30 p.m. to aid in the restoration of Holy Rosary Institute and its Carmel Drive campus. The Feb. 26 event is the first in a series of planned fundraisers to restore and redevelop the three-story building that was at the heart of the nearly 100-year-old tradition of creating educational opportunities for thousands of South Louisiana Catholic African-Americans.

The school opened in 1913 on an 84-acre tract of land purchased by Father Phillip L. Keller. The following year, thanks to a donation from Sister Katherine Drexel, a large three-story building was completed, housing the convent, dormitory and classrooms. In June of 1915, the school awarded its first diploma to Veronica Matteo (Linden) and went on to become one of the country's top preparatory schools.

The three-story building was placed on the National Historic Register in 1980. The main classroom building has been vacant since the school was closed by the Diocese of Lafayette in 1993.

Lafayette native Eddie Granger's Level of Euphoria (16x20) will be among the auction items at the Holy Rosary capital campaign kickoff event at the Petroleum Club Feb. 26. Granger's next exhibit is Saturday, April 7, at the Sibley Gallery, 3427 Magazine St., in New Orleans.

The Diocese donated the Holy Rosary campus back to the Sisters of Holy Family religious order in early 2011. Holy Rosary Redevelopment entered into a long-term lease to restore and redevelop the building later that year. Holy Rosary Redevelopment is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization.

Guests will enjoy live entertainment and food provided by the Petroleum Club while bidding on silent auction items to help raise funds for the renovations. Tickets to the event are $40, and tables of 10 are also available. MidSouth Bank and the Petroleum Club are supporting sponsors.

To donate to the silent auction or volunteer for the restoration effort, contact Mary Goody at 337-235-0129.

To purchase tickets, contact Gloria Linton at 337-237-0944, Mike Stagg at 337-962-1680, or Mary Goody at 337-235-0129 or pick them up at MidSouth Bank's Versailles Banking Center, 102 Versailles Blvd., Lafayette, LA, 70501.