Sullivan High to Be Renamed St. Michael

By Charles Lussier
The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
January 8, 2005

Starting next year, Bishop Sullivan High School will bear the name that it was originally slated to have when it was formed more than 20 years ago: St. Michael the Archangel Diocesan Regional High School.

Bishop Robert Muench announced the new name Friday, informing the students and teachers at a school assembly as school was getting under way.

The change takes effect when the 2005-2006 school year begins in August.

Muench told the students two months ago that the school's name would change in response to serious allegations by a man who claims that the late Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan sexually abused him 29 years ago, but that the repressed memory of the abuse resurfaced in June 2003.

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge settled the case, but has not divulged the terms of the settlement.

The announcement of the name change provoked a wide range of emotions at the school, from anger at the change, questions about the merits of the claims, to understanding given the seriousness of the allegations.

Bishop Sullivan High, which opened its doors in 1983, was the fourth Catholic high school in East Baton Rouge Parish. Originally, it was going to be called St. Michael the Archangel High School. When Bishop Sullivan died in September 1982, after eight years as bishop, the diocese agreed to rename the yet-to-be-built school in his honor.

In a news release announcing the change, Muench said he picked St. Michael the Archangel from a list of five names submitted by the school's board. Before settling on St. Michael, Muench also consulted with a group of eight priests that counsels the bishop on diocesan matters.

While the name will change, the school's colors will remain the same, and the mascot will still be the Warriors.

"St. Michael is depicted in many paintings with a sword, so The Warrior could apply to him as well," diocesan spokesman Bob Furlow said.

Muench from the beginning would consider only three types of names: one of the names associated with God, a canonized saint, or one of the names of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Furlow said that in his conversations and in the messages he's received, St. Michael led other name suggestions by a 2-to-1 margin.

"I know far and away, the unanimous choice was St. Michael," he said.

In the meantime, the school will have to replace any stationary, sports paraphernalia, signs, anything with the Bishop Sullivan name on it.

Although juniors have already ordered their senior class rings, Furlow said the school was able to get the manufacturer to change the order, so that when the rings arrive they will say St. Michael the Archangel, not Bishop Sullivan.

Furlow said he doesn't think anyone has added it all up, but the costs of the change will be thousands of dollars.

"The diocese is going to try to do as much as we can," he said. "Nobody is going to be punished for something that was not their fault."

Furlow, however, said it's possible the school may end up paying for some portion of the changes out of its own funds. He said the diocese will pay its share out of its funds as well as private donations.


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