A Notre Dame institution celebrates 50 years as a Marist brother.
Brother Louis Plourde, s.m., celebrated his 50th anniversary as a Marist with a get-together at the school he loves dearly with friends and colleagues. Always with a smile, Plourde enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and a few libations this afternoon with friends and colleagues, all members of the Br. Louis “fan club.”
A devoted man of God, Mary, and the Fighting Irish, Plourde has been a fixture on the Pontiac Notre Dame campus since 1994. He began his Notre Dame career, however, in 1982 a few miles south of Pontiac when he set foot on the Harper Woods campus of Notre Dame High School. His job was to assist in the business office and with general work inside and outside the school.
“At first I was helping out with setting up for things like bingo, parents events, liturgies and then later on I started to help out in the office,” he said. “One of the things I was doing on a regular basis was to help count Fr. Bryson's money. If you knew anything about how he was, he would just throw everything in a box—change, dollar bills, everything—and turn it into the office. I would then have to sort it out and get it ready for the bank.” He said he really got to admire Fr. Bryson during that time, and all the good things he was doing for the school.
East coast upbringing
Plourde grew up in Lowell, Mass., about 30 miles north of Boston, where he attended St. Marie grade school followed by high school for the first two years at St. Joseph, which was run by the Marist Teaching Brothers, and then to the Marist Fathers high school seminary, called Marist Prep Seminary in Bedford, Mass. “Fr. (Clifton) Moors (teacher and administrator at NDHS) was one of my teachers in Bedford,” he recalled.
From when he was very young, Plourde says he always wanted a religious vocation and thought initially about becoming a priest. “But when I found out you can be a brother, I decided to pursue that instead.” That pursuit led him to the Marist Seminary in Framingham and, during his second year there, decided to enter the Novitiate.
“Fr. George Szal, s.m., who was a Marist brother and then a priest, was in my class at the seminary in Framingham,” he said. “Fr. Szal actually went to high school at De La Salle. Also, Fr. Leon (Olszamowski, s.m., current NDPMA corporate president) was a year behind me at the seminary.”
In September 1967, Plourde took his vows in Rhinebeck, New York, along with both Ken Parent (former faculty NDHS and NDP) and Gerry Timmerman (later Fr. Timmerman, who also spent time at NDHS).
“My first assignment after I professed as a brother was in Bedford and then in Framingham doing mostly maintenance work. “Myself and a few other brothers did most of the work on the house in Framingham, turning it from a seminary into a retreat house,” Plourde said. “It really was a big job!”
On to Notre Dame
Then it was on to Harper Woods to Notre Dame. “Fr. Demers was the rector at ND and he wanted a brother there so I got chosen to go,” Plourde said. “I thought it was time for a change. I had been in the Boston area for a long time, and it was an opportunity to go and work somewhere else.”
“I spent 12 years at Notre Dame High. I enjoyed working in the office with Chuck Stys '60 (NDHS), who was the school’s business manager, and Dolores Lynch, an assistant to Chuck. I also drove a bus route for the last three years there. Bill Raymond and Fr. Leon were the principals during my time at NDHS and I worked a lot with Doreen Vermiglio and Rosemary Patterson, who worked in the main office.”
He says some of his favorite times at NDHS were the festivals and carnivals the school hosted on an annual basis.
Plourde came to the campus of Notre Dame Prep in 1994 and fell immediately in love with the school.
“I still love it here—I love Notre Dame Prep,” he says unabashedly. “Even if I had an opportunity to be transferred back east, I would still prefer to be here. It would take a lot to get me out of here.”
Currently dividing his time between handling the campus mail and running the school’s printing and copying department, Plourde is a definite fixture on campus. And his devotion to school athletics is legendary. Known as “super fan” at NDP, he has been a regular attendee at many, many of NDP's athletic events over the years. His enthusiasm for the school and especially for its student-athletes has contributed greatly to successes on the field and court over the past 19-plus years. In fact, the Catholic High School League honored Plourde with its “Distinguished Service Award” at the league’s annual Hall of Fame banquet in 2011.
He says there are a lot of great NDP memories, especially being present for the numerous state championships. “It's always lots of fun, huge! Fantastic seasons!
“In general, I hopefully have a positive impact on the kids,” he said. “But the students and the parents also have always been extremely nice to me. And I can be a complete advocate and fan of the kids! As always, it's about the kids!”
He says he also enjoys his role in setting up for and participating in all the many liturgies during the school year. “I am officially the sacristan for the school.”
Olszamowski sums up Plourde's devotion to the school by saying that if "Louis had his way, he would never die and always be at some event at Notre Dame Prep." Olszamowski also says that he wants Brother Louis to do the eulogy at his funeral. "I can’t trust anyone else.”
For Plourde, he’s as hardworking and devoted to Notre Dame and its students as he was when he first set foot on campus. He said today that he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“If I knew back when I professed to the Society of Mary that I would be here at NDPMA today exactly 50 years later, I would have said it sounds like a perfect place to work,” he said with his ubiquitous smile. “And you know what? It has been the perfect place for me!”
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.