The Thensted Center assists and educates underserved residents in Grand Coteau and the surrounding area. Fr. Cornelius J. Thensted, S.J., began a mission of helping the poor in 1947. Named in his honor, the Thensted Center was established in 1974 by Sr. Margaret “Mike” Hoffman, of the Religious Order of the Sacred Heart (R.S.C.J.), founders of the Academy of the Sacred Heart, to provide an outreach service to the community in which they live and work and to further the good ministry of Fr. Thensted.
For more than thirty years, the Thensted Center has been a center of the community of Grand Coteau, Louisiana and the surrounding areas. Grand Coteau is located in St. Landry Parish, a community with a 29.4% poverty rate (over 7% greater than Louisiana's poverty rate). Adopting and embracing Fr. Thensted's work and outlook, Thensted Outreach Center embraces all members of its community regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, gender. Every year, we work to find new ways to create opportunities for the members of our community—working in not only Grand Coteau and St. Landry Parish, but the neighboring parishes of St. Martin and Lafayette.
Housed in what was once a small high school, Thensted Center administers programs that serve more than 200 families-in-need annually, including seniors, single parents, veterans, and the homebound, with a commitment to aid any person who seeks help.
With its large, welcoming rooms Thensted Center extends its hospitality to community groups who utilize its meeting space, including the local Al-Anon support program, a local Boy Scouts chapter, the Knights of Peter Claver, the Ladies of Auxiliary, and three local schools. As a special community service to families grieving the loss of loved ones, Thensted Center offers welcome and consolation by serving as a post-funeral gathering place.
Recognized as a place for unconditional welcome and life-giving support, Thensted Center was selected as "2012 Agency of the Year" by United Way of St. Landry-Evangeline. With a full-time staff of only two people, Thensted Center programming is largely supported by the generosity of volunteers.