By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator 

Tucked away in a popular hamlet in the eastern fringes of Baton Rouge, St. Thomas More Church is often regarded as a hidden gem.  

st. thomas logo.tif

Pastor Father Michael Alello is hoping to put a little polish on that gem, recently launching an ambitious rebranding campaign aimed at unifying the STM church and educational ministries as well as increasing participation in all areas of the parish.  

The campaign, which was announced April 27-28 during the weekend Masses and is already visible through yard signs scattered throughout the residential neighborhoods of Broadmoor and Sherwood Forest and city wide via auto decals, comes approximately 18 months after St. Louis King of France Church was merged into STM.  

“One of the goals the past two years was how to merge the two parishes,” Father Alello said. “And that really became a theme for us on campus. How do we create one STM and not just one parish?”  

Several meetings were held with parishioners and representatives of all of the parish ministries, including the parish council, where the idea of rebranding STM as one entity was borne. Working with a Baton Rouge marketing firm, a sleek, contemporary logo was unveiled featuring clean lines, a crucifix and three equal sized pyramids.  

“The process was beautiful,” St. Thomas More principal Brian Moscona said. “The marketing people spent hours and hours listening to people talk about this place, history, tradition and aspirations, and what the community wants to be beyond who we are already. They listened to longtime parishioners, founding members of the parish and then they tried to capture the identity in a visual way.”  

STM Director of Mission Advancement Greg Brandao explained the triangles are an abstract representation of the STM mission: to guide, to inspire and to serve. The cross represents Christ, who guides STM’s mission and is central to the Catholic faith.  

“This direction helps to make the logo multi-purpose, meaning that the three-sided shapes are also symbolic of the Holy Trinity,” he said. “Their interlocking nature also speaks to the inclusion and openness found in the church and school.”  

Father Alello said it was intersting that some of the longtime parishioners quickly endorsed the more modern images from which to choose.
“I expected the older generation would want to stick to something that was more consistent and ordinary, and they were the ones who wanted out of the box,” he said.  

Moscona has already witnessed a positive impact on campus, with all of the church and school employees sporting uniformed nametags and even spirit t-shirts. Previously, the preschool, school and church each had individual logos and in some cases different colors.  

“So now we are really unified,” Moscona said. “People in our community have really been excited about the positive changes in the past two years. There is an excitement and a freshness in what’s happening here, and it’s being captured in a visual way.”  

“People are fired up to put a sign in their yard to represent their parish pride,” he added. “To have a fresh, modern and still classy logo with a timeless look is very refreshing for people in this parish. We want people to know they are welcome here, and we want them to be a part of it.”  

Father Alello admitted to early struggles after the merging of the parishes was announced but said he is gratified to see the unity coalescing parishioners. He is most touched by the comments of parishioners who have told him, “ ’I now feel a part of of this community.’ ”  

“That is a beautiful statement,” Father Alello said. “And it’s a statement of faith.  

“Our community is stronger, more diverse and more energized because of the merger. No doubt. It’s been a beautiful testament that even through difficult times great things have come. It’s the paschal mystery.”  

Father Alello said Mass attendance has increased and the parish census is currently approximately 2,600 families. Moscona chimed in that school enrollment has risen, and there is already a waiting list for the Early Learning Center, which will soon be moving into a new building.  

With the addition of the learning center, STM will be educating students from 12-weeks old through eighth grade, which Father Alello called a “huge honor and privilege and a wonderful opportunity to give them an outstanding education and faith formation.”  

The rebranding, however, is just the first step in an even more ambitious vision, that could include expansion of the current campus, although those plans are still in the development phase. Father Alello said he recognizes STM is the anchor of a long-established neighborhood and is hoping the positive changes will entice people to move into the area.  

“STM is the biggest asset in this part of town, and we are happy about that,” he said. “We are ready to give neighbors the opportunity to grow again, and that is part of the work we are doing here.  

“We believe it is the part of town Baton Rouge needs now more than ever.”  

A gem with a shine.