The Catholic Commentator  

Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School is home again.  

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Bishop Robert W. Muench helped cut the ribbon at Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School on Feb. 9. The school returned to its north Baton Rouge campus after spending 17 months at the Bon Carre Business Center after the flood of 2016. Pictured, from left, Cristo Rey president Brian Moscona, Sister Barbara Arceneaux FMOL of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Bishop Muench, Cristo Rey Board chairman Vic Howell, student Melelyah Murphy, Cristo Rey principal Claire Willis and Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.  Photos by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator  


Nearly 17 months after being flooded out of its original home, the school returned to north Baton Rouge on Feb. 9, with Bishop Robert W. Muench blessing the modular buildings that will house classes for the foreseeable future.  

“Oh happy day!” Bishop Muench exclaimed to the 113 members of the student body, as well as elected officials and others who gathered for the ribbon cutting.  

“This (school) is a tangible, concrete evidence not only of the existence of God but the love of God and the goodness of God and all of who are here and so many more who cannot be physically present to support you, our prized students,” he said. “I want you the savor the moment, hold onto it. I want you to remember it, because the future isn’t here yet. This is the present, and the present is a gift.”  

The school, which is in its sophomore year, opened Aug. 5, 2016 at the former site of Redemptorist High School, which had closed June 30 2015. Two weeks after Bishop Muench and others cut the ribbon to usher in a new era of education, the school took up to four feet of water during the historic flood of 2016, and has since been headquartered in the Bon Carre Business Center in Baton Rouge. 

Bishop Muench referred to the original ceremony, saying with a hearty chuckle, “I changed the blessing” from two years ago.  Cristo Rey sophomore Carlisha Shy, who works in the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s office as part of her work study curriculum, also referenced those difficult days, telling those gathered, “the great flood may never be forgotten. It gave us more than we felt like we could handle.  

“Not only did it flood our school, it also flooded our bodies with emotion, stress, anxiety and depression.”  

She added the choice was to “either tread through the flood or let it drown us. Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School decided to stay strong and tread through the flood like we knew we could.  

“We’ve prayed to God and we made it, we didn’t lose our faith, not a bit.”  

She concluded “we’ve been knocked out once but came back stronger. We’ve put hope into the Lord; now we will no longer struggle.”  

FEMA picked up 90 percent of the tab for the seven modular buildings that include two buildings totaling a combined 20 classrooms, an administrative building, a Corporate Work Study building, a cafetorium, teacher’s work room/supply room and a student service center.  

“Sometimes the best part of our lives is when we go through challenges, and this challenge brought us closer together,” said Cristo Rey Board chairman Vic Howell. “I think the kids are ready to move here and get out of those four walls at Bon Carre and get into a place that actually, really looks like a campus.”  

Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Broome said she was honored to be a part of the ceremony and expressed her enthusiasm that Cristo Rey has returned to the north Baton Rouge community. School officials have been resolute in their resolve to return to the neighborhood, where many of their students live, and to also serve as an economic development anchor in the struggling area.  

Broome also praised her own Catholic education, saying those four years instilled in her the faith, intellect and confidence that has served as the foundation to becoming a “leader for life.”  

“I expect you (the students) to be the life of this community,” Broome said.  

Volunteers from the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System spent the afternoon emptying an 18-wheeler of the desks that were brought over from Bon Carre and setting up classrooms to be ready to welcome students when they return Feb. 14.  

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Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School sophomore Carlisha Shy is all smiles as she walks into the new modular buildings at the site of the old Redemptorist High School. Cristo Rey was flooded two weeks after opening in August 2016, and students have spent the past 17 months at Bon Carre Business Center.