Catholic Education in The Bahamas

In remembrance of: Priests, Sisters, Principals, teachers and all persons responsible for the education of a countless number of Bahamian Citizens within our Bahamian Catholic Schools.

Catholics in the Bahamas had good reason to celebrate in 1887.The Ayde-Currans had successfully petitioned Archbishop Michael Augustine Corrigan of New York to appoint a resident priest. As a result, Rev. Charles George O’Keefe was asked to go to the Bahamas. In that same year Ayde-Currans and Fr. O’Keefe led the drive to acquire a site for, and to build St. Francis Xavier Church. On November 7, 1886, Fr. J.A. Ryan of New York offered the first Mass in the newly completed St. Francis Church, the first Catholic Church in the Bahamas. On Sunday, February 13, 1887, Archbishop Corrigan dedicated the church, administering the Sacrament of Confirmation for the first time in the Bahamas.

Over the years, the relationship with New York, and the clergy and laity from the New England states made many valuable donations to the Bahamas mission.

Having assumed responsibility for the mission, Archbishop Corrigan began an active search for religious to take up residence in the Bahamas, with little success initially. In 1889, in an inspired move, he approached Mother Ambrosia Sweeney of the Convent of Mount St. Vincent-on the Hudson to send a group of sisters to Nassau to begin a social and educational mission here.

The first to arrive were Sisters Dolores Van Rensselea, as superior, Teresa Alacoque Nagle, Casilda Saunders, Mercedes Donovan and Maria Corsini Gallagher. They were accompanied by Mother Ambrosia herself, and Sisters Irene Gonzaga Batell, Maria Dodge and three other women, who came to assist the Sisters. Sailing aboard the SS Santiago, they arrived in Nassau on October 28, 1889.

Taken from: From the Void to the Wonderful
By: Patricia Glinton-Meicholas

After arriving on October 28, 1889 the Sisters lost no time, and began St. Francis School on November 4, 1889. During the summer of 1893, the Sisters organized a sewing class “out East” and eventually it developed into “an every day school” in what is now Sacred Heart Parish. St. Francis Xavier and Sacred Heart Schools were the only parochial schools in Nassau for 30 years. During that time, children from Grants Town and Bain Town trudged miles each day to attend one of these schools. In 1926 the school of Our Lady, of the Holy Souls, was opened in Grants Town by Sr. Carmita Maria and Sr. Mary Rosella.

Catholic Schools in The Commonwealth of the Bahamas 1889 – to present

  • St. Francis Xavier School, West Street, New Providence 1889 – 1979
  • St. Francis Xavier Academy/Xavier Academy, West Hill Street, New Providence 1890 – 1955
  • Sacred Heart School /Bishop Leonard Jr. High
  • St. Vincent Academy, Harbour Island 1922 – 1944
  • Our Lady of the Holy Souls, New Providence 1926 Saints Peter and Paul, New Providence 1928 – 1932
  • St. Joseph School, Boyd Road, New Providence 1932 – 1979
  • St. Anselm School, Fox Hill, New Providence 1933 – 1973
  • St. Benedict School, Harbour Island 1944 – 1979
  • Holy Name School, Bailey Town, Bimini 1943 – 2010
  • St. Bede School, Sutton Street, New Providence 1945
  • St. Augustine’s College, Bernard Road, New Providence, 1947
  • St. Thomas More School, Maderia Street, New Providence 1953
  • Xavier College/Xavier Lower School, West Bay Street, New Providence 1955
  • St. Cecilia School, Coconut Grove, New Providence, 1956
  • Holy Redeemer School, Cat Island, 1956 – 1968
  • Aquinas College, Madeira Street, New Providence 1957
  • St. Vincent de Paul School, Hunter, Grand Bahama 1957 – 2010
  • Mary, Star of the Sea School, Freeport, Grand Bahama 1960-2014
  • St. Anne School, Rock Sound, Eleuthera 1960 – 2010
  • St. Francis de Sales School, Marsh Harbour, Abaco 1964
  • Grand Bahama Catholic High School, Freeport, Grand Bahama 1966-2014
  • Saints Francis & Joseph School, Boyd Road, New Providence 1979
  • Every Child Counts, Marsh Harbour, Abaco 1997
  • Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy, Freeport, Grand Bahama 2014

As the journey of Catholic education continues we will endeavour to produce graduates who are Christian leaders, academically capable, centered and well-rounded, loving, healthy, financially adept, environmentally conscious and life-long learners.