About us

A request from Archbishop Corrigan 

Oct. 28, 1889 In response to a request from Archbishop Corrigan, nine Sisters of Charity from Mount St. Vincent-on-the-Hudson, New York, and three lay women arrived in Nassau. The lay women remained for several months helping the Sisters, while Reverend Mother Ambrosio and the other three officials of New York Community returned home after a week or so. 

The five - Sisters Dolores Van Rensselaer (the Superior), Mercedez Donovan, Maria Corsini Gallagher, Teresa Alacoque Nagle and Casilda Saunders - remained for a number of years serving the new mission as teachers, and social workers. They were the first in a continuous, widening line of devoted teachers, nurses and social workers who consecrated themselves to Christ, freely served The Bahamas from then until now.

The contributions of the Sisters of Charity in this archipelago were appropriate, timely and needed. Their willingness to remain, was an important factor that pushed the Archbishop of New York to find priests to reside in Nassau.

In Nov. 4, 1889 - The Sisters of Charity opened the first of many Catholic Free Elementary Schools, St. Francis in an old rented building on the grounds south of the Church.

In a section of their small, rented residence north of the Church, they began St. Francis Xavier Academy, a fee-paying institution.

Feb. 2, 1891 - Father Chrysoston Schreiner, OSB of St. John's Abbey, Minnesota, arrived in Nassau from New York City. This former Vice President of St. John's University agreed to assist the Archbishop of New York, by residing and working the Mission Church in The Bahamas. The Archbishop appointed him Vicar Forane in The Bahamas and Pastor of St. Francis.

April 10, 1893 - The Archdiocese of New York bougth the property, approximately 1.2 acres south of the Church, that was being rented by the Sisters for the Parish School. This purchase extended the church property to Delancy Street.

In the late summer 1893, Fr. Chrysostom moved into Dunmare house which he re-named "The Priory." This former Colonial Governor's residence and later, military hospital for the British West Indies Regiment in Nassau, was on land adjoining the northern boundary of the hill-top lot on which St. Francis Church was built. The Priory became the headquarters for all Benedictine Monks working in The Bahamas and also St. Francis Church Rectory.

(By the 1980's, the Priory had not been occupied for years. The local Benedictine Monks were residing at St. Augustine's Monastery in Fox Hill. Each Parish had its rectory and the Bishop of the Diocese resided on the Eastern Road. The building was in an advanced state of disrepair so it was demolished.)

While the Sisters continued to teach the increasing number of children in the Parish Free School, they and Fr. Chrysostom were also instructing some children and local adults to be received into the church.

By the year 1894, Fr. Chrysostom had performed 38 baptisms; the parish school had enrolled 126 boys and 154 girls. 

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