Saint Katharine Drexel
St. Edward School’s rich history and tradition began on November 18, 1918, as an influenza epidemic precluded the school from opening in September as scheduled. It was founded as an all-black school for the community of New Iberia, Louisiana, by Mother Katharine Drexel, who would later be declared a saint by Pope John Paul, II on October 1, 2000.
Mother Katharine named the school in honor of her brother-in-law, Edward Morrell, who purchased the property on which the school still sits. She staffed it with Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the religious order she also founded, which is based in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. The school started with grades first through fifth in a two-story church/school building, with the church being housed on the bottom and the school on top. In 1922, sixth and seventh grades were added, and St. Edward School’s first high school graduation was celebrated in 1925.
In the early 1960’s, the combination church/school was torn down to make way for a new school facility, with a new church being built on the next city block. Several St. Edward Church parishioners spent many hours contributing to the school’s construction as the concrete block walls were erected, which can still be seen today and serve as the building’s main structure.
With desegregation in the early 1970’s, St. Edward School was integrated and became the kindergarten through third grade school for the Catholic school system of New Iberia. Pre-kindergarten was later added. Currently, St. Edward is a major feeder school for Catholic High School, which hosts fourth through twelfth grades.
St. Edward School was led by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament until the summer of 2004. The entire staff is now a lay staff under the leadership of a lay principal. The relationship between the Sisters and the influence of St. Katharine remains alive and strong within the school. Day-to-day operations continue to focus on the school’s mission of “Living the Eucharistic Reality that All are One in Christ.”