January 23, 2009

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

In the name of the father: Five Louies share an amazing story of faith and family

Ranging in age from 1 to 98, the five people who share the name Louie Annie are also connected by a commitment to Catholic education. (Submitted photo)

Ranging in age from 1 to 98, the five people who share the name Louie Annie are also connected by a commitment to Catholic education. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

When you hear the story of the five people named Louie Annee, you realize it’s a story about commitment—to a dream, a family and a way of life.

You also realize that the story of the five Louies might make a good commercial for the continuing value of a Catholic education.

Start with the story of the oldest Louie Annee, whose parents immigrated to the United States and Indianapolis in the early 1900s.

Coming from an area along the border of France and Germany, his parents wanted a new life for themselves and a Catholic education for Louie and his brother. So Louie attended the former Sacred Heart School and Cathedral High School, both in in Indianapolis, before he had to leave school to help support his family.

Catholic education was also the choice that the oldest Louie Annee, now 98, and his wife, Mildred, made for their seven children, including their oldest child who they also named Louie.

“We all went to Catholic grade schools and Catholic high schools,” says the second-generation Louie, 70, who graduated from the former Sacred Heart High School in Indianapolis. “It was very important to my parents to send us to Catholic schools. And I always felt it was important for my children, too. We had eight kids. We thought that if they were raised in the right way, they would raise their family in the right way. A Catholic education helps people do that. We had seen the example of what it had done for our family.”

Sacrifices had to be made to make it possible, he says.

“There were a lot of times when we didn’t know where the money was coming from to pay for it. But it always came from somewhere. You just had to give other things up.”

Louie Annee, the third generation, remembers those days and the sacrifices that his father and his mother, Nancy, made.

“With eight kids, financially it was something my parents had to work hard to get done,” says the third-generation Louie, who is 48, a 1979 graduate of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis and the owner of The Atrium and The Columns, two banquet facilities. “Catholic education definitely had a big impact on me. The respect and the discipline are so much different than public schools. The kids’ attitudes are so much different.”

So he and his wife, Rhea, who met at Roncalli, were adamant about sending their four children to Catholic schools. They also named their oldest child Louie.

“I was proud to name my son Louie because he was named after my father and grandfather,” says Louie, the third generation. “I think it’s neat to be part of that tradition. It’s just special because I know there are years upon years that there’s been a Louie Annee on the southside. Even if you don’t know me, you know me because of the other Louie Annees. It’s almost like a legacy.”

A legacy of family, faith and doing what it takes to provide a Catholic education for your children—a legacy that the fourth-generation Louie Annee, 29, embraced and hopes to extend to his 18-month-old son, the fifth-generation Louie Annee.

“When we found out we were having a boy, there was no doubt what we were going to name him,” says Louie, the fourth generation.

There is also no doubt that this Louie and his wife, Elizabeth, both Roncalli graduates, want to provide a Catholic education for their son, Louie.

“My parents sacrificed a lot to make sure we had that,” says Louie, the fourth generation. “It will be important for me for Louie to go to Catholic school. You look around and you want to make sure they’re raised right. To me, a Catholic education is much more than the education they get. It’s also the other parents and children in Catholic schools. It’s their involvement in their children’s lives. I want my child around other children who have that background in their lives.”

That dedication to Catholic education has been a foundation for nearly a century for the Annee family—and for countless other families in the 175-year-history of the archdiocese.

“All five generations and before have always been Catholic,” says Louie Annee, the third generation. “To me, there’s no other way to believe. It’s the backbone of our family. In good times and bad times, we lean on our religion. It’s the foundation of our family and everything. If my opinion counts, there’s no doubt I want my grandchildren to have a Catholic education.” †

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