Reverend Mother Anna Shannon, RSCJ
Reverend Mother Anna Shannon, RSCJ (1810-1896) entered the Sacred Heart school in Florissant, MO, at the age of 14. For the next 17 years, she continued her studies, became a novice, and was professed under the guidance of St. Philippine Duchesne.
She was superior of St. Michael’s in Convent, LA, and in 1864 was named vicar of that school and the academies in Grand Coteau and Natchitoches. During the Civil War, St. Michael’s was under the jurisdiction of the Federal troops, while the other schools were under the authority of the Confederate troops.
At that time, with the support of Archbishop Jean Marie Odin, she twice crossed Federal and Confederate lines in order to purchase and return with supplies for the schools at Grand Coteau, St. Michael’s, Natchitoches, and the Jesuits of St. Charles College in Grand Coteau.
As the war drew to an end, the Catholic bishops met at the Second Plenary Conference in Baltimore to come up with a plan to safeguard Catholic education against the expansion of secular education which excluded all creeds. Odin returned to Louisiana aware of two other great needs: the Catholic education for free people of color and the need to establish an education for French Creoles in the Quarter. He asked Mother Shannon to help facilitate these needs by opening a free school for children of color and a school for girls.
Mother Shannon purchased the Boudousquie property on Dumaine Street and opened the first Sacred Heart school in New Orleans, Mater Admirabilis (Mother Most Admirable), in 1867. The school operated until 1913. The current Academy of the Sacred Heart on St. Charles Avenue opened in 1887.