Historic CYO Center & Gymnasium Renovation Fund
In 1945, Fr. Dominic Blasco, founding pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish, spearheaded the efforts of a group of dedicated men and women to form an organization called the Catholic Youth Organization of Baton Rouge. Their mission was to bring together the youth and adult leaders of the community for character-building recreational, social, spiritual and cultural activities. The success of this effort resulted in the construction of the historic CYO Center & Gymnasium on the south side of Sacred Heart’s campus in 1957.
Thousands of Baton Rouge youth benefited from this unique community center, especially in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. In addition to league athletic competitions in the gym there were dances, plays, musical performances, and art exhibitions. There was an extensive slate of classes for both children and adults including ceramics, painting, drawing, crafts, photography, jewelry making, guitar, sewing, dance, gymnastics, twirling, acting, and physical fitness. The building also served as a safe, supervised, gathering place for many children who lived within walking or biking distance— athletic equipment and board games were available to keep them entertained after school, on Saturdays, and during the summer.
As the turn of the century approached, the scope of the CYO’s mission gradually changed, and the CYO Center saw less and less activity. Finally, in 2006, the building was officially turned over to Sacred Heart Parish to be renovated as a parish activity center.