It was about the year 1940, when Masses at St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral were mainly filled with tourists. The Sunday Masses at that time, were held at 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. for parishioners like the late Mrs. Theresa Ramsay, mother of Sylvester and Ora Ramsay, and the hotel workers. The 8:30 a.m. Mass was for the youth.
There was no 7:00 p.m. Mass but instead a Holy Hour service was held. This was when the entire congregation participated in Latin Masses and Gregorian Chants.It was at this time, when the late Rev. Fr. Brendan Forsythe, O.S.B.., formed his all male choir, and featured a soloist, Mrs. Darcy Ryan, who song at the 8:30 a.m. Mass and at the 7:00 p.m. Holy Hour service on Sundays.
Patsy - the first female to join a church choir in the Bahamas
In 1946, the audience attending one of St. Francis School's play, under the direction of Sr. Regina Michael, a young lady by the name of Patricia Wallece (now Dean) held the audience spellbound with her beautiful soprano voice as she sang the "Ave Maria".
Fr. Brendan invited her to do a repeat performance at the Christmas Mass, "Pet/Patsy",as she was called, felt honored and appreciated. She became the "first" female to join a church choir in The Bahamas at the age of 15.
Patsy remained at St. Francisuntil 1953, singing with persons like Leornard "Skinny" Archer, Baldwin Symonette and John E. Bonamy, Msgr. Preston Mos, Andrew Curry, Cyril Baker, Godfrey Basden, brothers James and Maxwell Thompson, Charles, Linus and Blaise Austin, John, Jerome and Anthony Dean, Wilbur and Clifford Cooper, Vincent Roberts, Henry Ferguson, Lawrence Davis, Eugene Newry, Roland Maura, Charles Roker, Earl Thompson and Charles Sweeting.
They practiced every Sunday before the 7:00 p.m. service under the direction of Fr. Brendan. In those days, choir members wore black cassocks and white tunics, as those worn by the senior altar boys of today. Although Patsy may have been the first lady to be a member of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Choir, there were a few others, who made guest appearances at special services and at Chirstmas, at the invitation of Fr. Brendan. Ms. Betty Cole and her group of girls come to mind, with their singing of "Silent Night, Holy Night."
Mr. Curry (deceased), took over the choir in 1961, when he returned from his studies in the United States.
It was, however, after Christmas Service of 1962, that it was suggested to Mr. Curry, that the all male choir should be opened up to the ladies in orderto have some lighter voices. He agreed and in early January 1963, the invitation went out and many ladies joined.
Some of the original ladies were Maime Maura, Eloise Archaer, Agatha (Gibson) Rodgers, Dorothy Taylor, Lynn (Gibson) Curry, (wife of the director) and Gloria (young) Gomez al altos. The sopranos included Thelma (Barnett) Grimes, Peggy Benson, Jenniffer Davis, Rose (Gibson) Ferguson, Caroline Johnson (deceased), Altemese (Lightbourne) Hanna, Eugenie McWeeney, (now Lady Nuttal), Tony Mosely and Paula (Ramsey) Carrey.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Senior Choir of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, please contact Mr. Andrew Curry or any member of the choir whose names appear on the back of the brochure.