The Many Monuments of SPS: Meaning, Significance, Prominence

(COVINGTON, La) — Roaming the campus of St. Paul’s, it is inevitable that one notices the several monuments that have been erected on campus throughout the years. Dedicated to individuals who have influenced the school dramatically, the significance of these monuments transcends the charming beauty that they add to campus.

“The impact that St. Paul’s has made upon thousands of people since its conception is magnificent,” SPS President Bro. Ray Bulliard, FSC, said. “It’s to the point where, when tragedy strikes, the families want St. Paul’s to figure into their grieving process.”

Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue

At the center of Founders’ Circle stands a bronze statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus dedicated to Bro. Charles Crouzet, FSC, a founding Brother of St. Paul’s.

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Bro. Charles Crouzet smiles wide as he stands along the shores of Lake Alfred. (Photo source: Brandon Gallego)

“Brother Crouzet was a kindhearted, good man who spent most of his day praying,” Bro. Ray said. “He loved the school very much.”

Serving in the classroom as a teacher until nearly 90 years of age, Bro. Charles taught mechanical drawing and typing skills courses while at St. Paul’s. Due to his faithful devotion to the Christian Brothers, however, Bro. Charles traveled often, spreading word of the Lasallian mission throughout the United States. Yet, through it all, St. Paul’s forever possessed special prominence in Bro. Charles’ heart, leading him to happily retire, and peacefully reside here until his death.

“The statue is actually one of a kind,” Bro. Ray said. “It is very untraditional.”

The Sacred Heart of Jesus statute’s body is designed to resemble Bro. Charles himself, who was often seen bent over praying the rosary as he roamed campus. The statue’s hands are crafted slightly out of proportion, bearing the immense love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They are positioned in a loving gesture, inviting students to partake in this heartfelt intimacy as they cross the statue’s merciful path. The face of the statue replicates the head of Michelangelo’s marble statue “De Cristo Della Minerva,” which is housed at the Santa Maria sopra Minerva Basilica in Rome, Italy.

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The Sacred Heart of Jesus statue stands earnestly at the center of Founders’ Circle. (Photo by Brandon Gallego)

Surrounding the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue is a small, keyhole-shaped jasmine garden enclosed by a brick boundary. This structure represents Jesus Christ as the key to eternal salvation. Positioned around this brick border are brass nameplates of the Benedictine Brothers who founded St. Paul’s in 1911, along with the Brothers of the Christian Schools who took possession of the school in 1918. 

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Flames ravage Dixon Hall during the destructive fire of 1981. Fortunately, no individuals were severely injured. (Photo source: 1982 Conifer)

This current Sacred Heart of Jesus statue replaces an original iron version, which was donated to Bro. Charles by the Class of 1928. This former statue exploded in a fiery blaze when Dixon Hall, a former classroom building, burned down on Sept. 21, 1981.

Marian Grotto

A Marian Grotto dedicated to Raymond Bulliard, Sr., father of Bro. Ray, resides next to the Our Lady of Peace Chapel on campus.

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Among the Marian Grotto lies a plaque honoring Raymond Bulliard, Sr. (Photo by Lester Guttuso)


“My father was a very loving man and he loved his family unconditionally,” Bro. Ray said. “I was particularly appreciative that he supported my decision to join the Brothers.”

This selfless love, perfectly exemplified by Our Lady, has faithfully remained an integral component of the Bulliard family for several years.

“When my mother was a little girl, she used to come to Covington,” Bro. Ray said. “There was a grotto to Our Lady on the campus of St. Paul’s.”

When St. Paul’s original grotto became dilapidated due to poor construction,  Bro. Ray’s mother spearheaded efforts to re-institute Our Lady’s presence on campus.

“My mom always thought there should be a Marian Grotto on our campus,” Bro. Ray said. “My mom came over, along with my brother and sister; we looked around, and we decided that this would be the best place for it.”

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The Marian statue, purchased by Bro. Ray’s mother, resides solemnly in Her serene grotto. The wooden A-frame surrounding the statue of Our Lady was constructed by Bro. Alfred Baltz, FSC. (Photo by Lester Guttuso)

 

Signum Fidei Pavilion

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The Signum Fidei, meaning “sign of faith”, is the symbol of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. (Image source: sji-international.edu)

The Signum Fidei Pavilion located near Benilde Hall honors Bro. Alfred Baltz, FSC. Built from scratch in the mid-90s by Bro. Alfred, along with St. Paul’s faculty member Judy Lacour and her husband Ken Lacour, the Signum Fidei Pavilion offers students a comfortable shaded area to sit before school, during lunchtime, and after school.

In the classroom, Bro. Alfred taught chemistry and physics, as well as religion classes. After 50 years of teaching, Bro. Alfred retired from the classroom. In his honor, an award for completing 50 service hours was named after him.

Yet, despite his well-deserved retirement, Bro. Alfred has continually provided service to St. Paul’s whenever capable. As a skilled craftsman and carpentry enthusiast, Bro. Alfred has constructed several, wooden fixtures utilized around campus. Furthermore, Bro. Alfred laid the floor in the Old Gym, as well as a small section of the floor in the New Gym. Aside from construction efforts, Bro. Alfred, along with St. Paul’s faculty member Trevor Watkins, was actively involved in rehabilitating the campus pond in 1984. Following this drainage and cleansing, the campus pond was dubbed Lake Alfred, while its island claimed the name Trevor Island.

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The Signum Fidei Pavilion awaits students to fill its empty benches. (Photo by Lester Guttuso)

 

Michael Mark Gahagan Memorial Garden

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Michael Mark Gahagan, a member of the Class of 1975, smiles as he poses for his senior portrait. (Photo source: 1975 Conifer) 

The Michael Mark Gahagan Memorial Garden lies directly outside of present-day Lasalle Hall. Once a dormitory, it is here where Gahagan, who died a premature death, once lived during his years as a junior and senior at St. Paul’s.

A plaque remembering Gahagan is placed among the garden, inscribed with his own inspiring words, “Love and embrace life.” Furnished with brick benches, the garden area offers students a quiet space for reflection, peace, and relaxation.

“Life goes by in a blink, and you do not want to miss anything along the way,” Peter Gahagan, son of Michael Mark Gahagan, said. “Take time to enjoy a pretty sunset. Take time to enjoy moments spent with family and friends. That is what life is about. That is the message my father would have wanted to share with his fellow Wolves.”

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The Michael Mark Gahagan Memorial Garden resides along the sidewalks near Lasalle Hall and the Briggs Assembly Center. At its center stands a plaque honoring Gahagan. (Photo by Lester Guttuso)

 

Stephen Scott Stalder Memorial Bulletin Board

Along the sidewalks near Benilde Hall stands a wooden bulletin board dedicated to Stephen Scott Stalder, a member of the Class of 1986. During his senior year, on Feb. 2, 1986, Stalder was killed in a tragic automobile accident while driving across the Causeway Bridge in foggy conditions. Continuously filled with numerous photos, the board effectively updates students on the many events occurring around campus.

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The 1986 Conifer was lovingly dedicated to Stalder. Here, on the yearbook’s front page, Stalder is pictured smiling happily. (Photo source: 1986 Conifer)

“Scott was a significant part of our class; every member was affected by his death,” Sam Latino, a classmate of Stalder, said. “Together, we still miss him.”

As an SPS student and boarder, Stalder was an outgoing, laid-back individual who moved easily between different social groups. Stalder was a member of the football team, and he was also enrolled in honors courses.

“Scott was a person that was liked by everyone who knew him,” Steve Millet, a classmate of Stalder, said. “He was very close to his roommate and his friends at school. He also had a laid back demeanor, and I remember him wearing untied high-top basketball shoes.

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The Stephen Scott Stalder Memorial Bulletin Board is adorned with a detailed painting by biology teacher John Carambat. On its opposite side, numerous photos fill the wooden bulletin board’s surface. (Photo by Lester Guttuso)

 

Ben Bragg Memorial Fountain

The Ben Bragg Memorial Fountain, dedicated to Class of 2008 member Ben Bragg, abides on the shores of Lake Alfred near the Our Lady of Peace Chapel. While attending State University of New York Maritime College, Bragg was tragically killed while repairing his automobile.

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Ben Bragg, dressed in his tuxedo, smiles as he poses for his senior portrait. (Photo Source: 2008 Conifer)

“Ben was one of those guys at St. Paul’s that I don’t think anyone had a bad word to say about, because he appreciated everything around him in life and was a real humble guy,” Business I teacher Joshua Gast, who was a classmate of Bragg, said. “The fountain is perfect to remember him.”

As a St. Paul’s student, Bragg was particularly known for his profound sense of school spirit and intense enthusiasm. On Friday nights at St. Paul’s football games, Bragg could be easily spotted with his face painted half blue, half gold. Ever since, St. Paul’s students have observed this tradition in Bragg’s honor.

“He would always dress head to toe in blue and gold,” Campus Minister and Religion IV teacher Jeff Ramon, who was a classmate of Bragg, said. “My most fond memory would definitely be Ben going nuts in front of the student section.”

In addition to his energetic personality, Bragg also possessed a sincere love for his fellow St. Paul’s brothers.

“My favorite memory of Ben would have to be before every football game,” Gast, who played football while attending St. Paul’s, said. “We would dress out, and a couple of us would always go to his tailgate where he would have all kinds of obscure meats on the grill for the players before we took the field.”

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The Ben Bragg Memorial fountain stands solemnly on the shores of Lake Alfred. The Cherubim statue within the fountain wears Ben Bragg’s senior retreat cross around it’s neck. The small brick border surrounding the statue reads Ben Bragg’s own words, “Realize how little you need in order to be satisfied and at peace.” (Photo by Lester Guttuso)

 

Justin Addison Memorial Bench

A stone bench dedicated to Justin Addison, a member of the Class of 2014, dwells along the sidewalk leading from the cafeteria to the Our Lady of Peace Chapel. Addison, who tragically lost his life on Jan. 22, 2013, while cycling on the Tammany Trace, is remembered through this memorial.

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Justin Addison is lovingly remembered on a full page of the 2014 Conifer. (Image Source: 2014 Conifer)

“I think the bench is really just an awesome dedication to Justin,” AP Writing teacher Brad Guillory, who taught Addison, said. “The bench is something that represents Justin, because he was really into nature and was an outdoors kid.”

As a St. Paul’s honor roll student, Addison was a multi-talented individual who immersed himself in campus life. Extracurricularly, Addison was affiliated with Students Hosts, Lasallian Youth Leaders, Shell Eco-Car Club, and several other organizations. Aside from his involvement in competitive cycling, Addison wrote poetry and played music. Furthermore, he was actively involved in local conservation efforts and was very passionate about photography.

“Justin was just one of those incredible human beings,” Bro. Ray said. “He was always, always smiling. You never saw Justin down or complain about anything. Everybody loved Justin. He was a wonderful young man.”

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The Justin Addison Memorial Bench, inscribed with Justin Addison’s own words written in a reflection during religion class, reads, “What is evident at St. Paul’s is our sense of brotherhood, both with our St. Paul’s classmates and the Lasallian community across the globe. The presence of God drifts about our campus like a thick perfume. One can feel it. One can smell it.” (Photo by Lester Guttuso)

These are but some of the examples of how students, families, and alumni have added to the beauty of the St. Paul’s campus in meaningful ways, either to remember a loved one or to remember their own time spent on the campus. Additional memorials, prayer gardens, and even a grove of crepe myrtle trees are scattered throughout the campus, each representing individual memories that collectively illustrate the St. Paul’s mission to be “a great place to grow up.”

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5 Comments on “The Many Monuments of SPS: Meaning, Significance, Prominence”

  1. Ellen Ellis
    November 23, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    Very nice story. Thanks for highlighting these areas of the school’s beautiful campus, and the profiles of the people memorialized by them.

    Like

  2. S
    November 24, 2016 at 1:34 am #

    This article was very wonderful. But it was heartbreaking to discover that Patrick Shepherd, class of ’79, who is included on the fountain, was not included in this article. But it is apparent the beautiful impact all these men had on so many lives.

    Like

    • Lester Guttuso
      November 29, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

      Thank you for pointing out this detail concerning Patrick Shepard. I am deeply sorry for overlooking it. With so much information and history involved with St. Paul’s monuments throughout campus, it becomes particularly easy to overlook small details. I will spend time researching the fountain and Patrick Shepard, and add this information to the article.

      Like

  3. Kristen Blackburn
    November 29, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    This is truly a beautiful piece, but I am saddened to see that my brother, Robert Schonberg, Jr. Class of 1990, was also left off. His memorial is located near the alumni building.

    Like

    • Lester Guttuso
      November 29, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

      Thank you for pointing out Robert’s memorial. I plan to write a follow-up article which will cover the remaining monuments on St. Paul’s campus, and Robert Schonberg’s memorial will undoubtedly be included. This in-depth project demanded copious amounts of time spent researching, interviewing, and writing, so I was unable to highlight every memorial on campus in just one article. Also, with semester exams approaching, as well as assignments, quizzes, and tests looming in many of my classes, there was just simply not enough time for me to devote to writing. I am deeply sorry that you were saddened, and I look forward to alleviating this grief when my follow-up article is published. When the time comes, may I email you with questions concerning your brother and his memorial?

      Like

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