Louis Hebert has dedicated his life and career to Catholic education and to the students of Bishop McVinney School. A parishioner of SS. John and James Parish in West Warwick, Hebert serves as a lector, and is always willing to help the parish any chance he can. But most of his hours are spent at the South Providence School, where he helps to guide the students in his role as educator and principal.
He began his career as a sixth grade teacher, then as the vice principal during the tenure of Sister Theresina Scully, C.P., before taking his current position as principal. Robin Tagliaferri, who nominated Hebert for a Lumen Gentium Award in Catholic Education, expressed that he has worked tirelessly for almost three decades in service to the children of the school, who are relentlessly challenged by the urban setting and financial constraints in which they live.
“The halls of the school are filled with energy, joy and determination, and the celebration of diverse ethnic cultures is strongly encouraged,” she said.
Hebert felt very honored when he found out he would be presented with an award for his service in Catholic education. He feels that it is because the dedicated staff and faculty, families, students and friends of Bishop McVinney School that he was considered, expressing his gratitude to all who have made this possible.
“We have so many wonderful families who have supported us for years as well as staff and faculty who work long hours in service of their students that make us such a blessed community,” said Hebert.
Having been blessed with a Catholic school education throughout his life, Hebert said he always wanted to try and make a difference in others’ lives.
“I knew how important it was to pray and learn about God each day of school,” he said. “I wanted to teach in a school that fostered a sense of community and Christian values on a daily basis. After college, there was a moment where I had to make a decision and I made the decision not to [go into teaching for more money], but to try to make a difference in people’s lives. There’s a lot of challenges, but there are also many rewards.”
Hebert acknowledged how difficult it is for so many families to be able to afford a quality education in South Providence, adding that it is a challenge that drives him and so many others from Bishop McVinney School to continue to fight for ways to help them.
“I know the pain and difficulties many of our youngsters face in coping with all the ills of a large urban environment which is why we try our best to create a second home for many of students. People hear stories about the kids who live in areas that nobody wants to travel, let alone live. Those kids live there in high crime areas. I think when they come into our school they get a sense that it is a second family, it is a community. I see that every year in the graduation essays from the students. It is very gratifying for me that that is how they come to view our school.”
Hebert credits his life of serving families through education to his devout faith, adding that if it were not for his faith in God, he does not think he would be able to do the job he does.
“Without faith, it’s impossible to face the challenges, it would be enormous. I pray each morning and night to God to help me become the best version of myself each and every day,” he said. “It is through my faith in God that I try and cope with the challenges each day presents and know that God is always by our side in meeting the needs of our students and families.”
Rhode Island Catholic is featuring profiles of the winners of the diocese’s 2018 Lumen Gentium Awards, which formally recognize those who ‘toil in the vineyard’ in service to the Lord, and minister to those in greatest need in their parish or community. The honorees will be awarded during a dinner at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, May 16. Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will support Diocesan Hispanic Ministries — are asked to register online at www.dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards. For any questions about the event, please call 401-277-2121.