Brothers of the Sacred Heart
Father Andre’ Coindre, founder of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, was born in Lyons, France in 1787. Devoting his life to the restoration of the Church following the Reign of Terror at the end of the French Revolution, his chief mission became the moral, intellectual and religious development of young orphan boys left in distress by the disintegration of family life following the Revolution.
In 1821 he formed the Brothers of the Sacred Heart to further his efforts, resolving to establish a community of Brothers trained to work for the poor through the establishment of schools. Following the death of Father Coindre in 1826, the efforts of Brother Polycarp, the first Brother Superior General of the Institute, led to tremendous growth. By the time of his death in 1859, the Institute had grown to over 400 Brothers and 70 schools.
In January of 1847, five missionary Brothers of the Sacred Heart arrived in Mobile, Alabama at the request of Bishop Portier to do charitable and educational work. With their arrival in America the congregation began its transformation into a worldwide institute comprised of many nationalities.
In 1869 New Orleans Archbishop Jean-Marie Odin invited the Brothers to open a school in New Orleans. St. Aloysius opened on September 26, 1869 with six students. It was located at Chartres and Barracks Streets, the current site of the Richelieu Hotel. In 1892 the school was moved into a larger building on the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Rampart Street where it remained until 1925 when Rampart Street was widened. The new school building was opened at 1137 Esplanade Avenue. The enrollment was 500 students in 1925 and would ultimately grow to 980 during the next forty-four years. Over 5,000 young men graduated from St. Aloysius during its 100-year history.
Eighty-five years after opening St. Aloysius, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart opened a second school in New Orleans. Cor Jesu was built in Gentilly at the request of Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel and was designed to meet the needs of the vastly expanding Lakefront and New Orleans East areas.
In 1954, Cor Jesu High School opened with an enrollment of about 700 students. It was built on Elysian Fields Avenue and would serve ultimately as the location of Brother Martin High School. Its thirteen graduating classes produced over 1,300 alumni.
In September of 1969, celebrating the 100th year of their educational commitment to the youth of the New Orleans area, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart consolidated St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu High Schools under the title of Brother Martin High School.
Brother Martin High School was founded on the principle that in an extraordinary age, students must have teaching of extraordinary caliber. It was designed to meet this challenge with modern facilities, new programs, and an innovative concept of high school organization and scheduling. In selecting the name, the Brothers honored one of their confreres. His contributions to the Brothers and to education are inscribed on the plaque in the lobby of the school: Brother Martin High School honors Brother Martin Hernandez, S.C., a Brother of the Sacred Heart, whose lifetime of dedicated service to the youth of New Orleans is perpetuated by this building.
Among the many honors and awards he received were that of being named to the New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and being selected Loyola Alumnus of the Year and recipient of the Adjutor Hominum Award in 1982. Brother Martin was a founder of the New Orleans Prep League for Catholic, private and public schools. He also held the office of Treasurer for the National Association of Major Superiors of Men and was a member of the Executive Board. Brother Martin was on the Executive Committee of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association as a representative of Catholic, private and public schools of the New Orleans area.
Brother Martin High School is currently engaged in a long-range plan for buildings and programs to support capital and endowment needs through the year 2015.
Phase I, of the three-phase plan, resulted in the Thomas F. & Elaine P. Ridgley Fine Arts and Athletic Center which was dedicated in 1999. The Center includes an art room, the St. Aloysius Class of 1944 Gymnasium, athletic facilities, band and choral rooms, classrooms and the Brother Mark Thornton Terrace, a large multi-purpose room. Phase II included renovations to E.A. Farley Field and the completion of the Roland H. and Macy Paton Meyer Science and Mathematics Building and The James B. Branton Chapel.
Phase III involves additional construction, renovation of existing facilities, increased endowment for academic and need-based scholarships, additional support for spiritual formation of faculty, and program development efforts.
The Brothers of the Sacred Heart and their partners have touched the hearts and shaped the lives of over 18,000 young men in their 145 years in New Orleans. These alumni are a testimony to the love of service and dedication to excellence modeled by the faculties and staffs of St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu that continue at Brother Martin High School.