Historic Timeline


1837 The church was officially recognized, when Pope Gregory XVI created three Vicariates Apostolic in the British

West Indies, including the Bahamas in the Vicariate Jamaica.


1885 The Bahamas was formally transferred to the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of New York.  Archbishop Michael A. Corrigan was appointed to the Mission and appointed Father Charles George O’Keefe to serve Nassau.


1887 Dedication of St. Francis Xavier Church by Archbishop Michael Corrigan of New York—confirmation was also administered that day.


1889 Five Sisters of Charity from Mount St. Vincent on the Hudson, New York arrived in The Bahama Islands.  The Sisters opened a free school (St. Francis Xavier Academy) for poor children.  


1891 Two Benedictine Monks of St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota begin to serve the Bahama Mission.  Fr. Chrysostom Schreiner, OSB (the first to arrive) was appointed Vicar Forane of the Bahamas.  (He died at San Salvador island in 1928.  His remains is there today.)


1892 The first Solemn High Mass celebrated in Nassau.  The first Out Island mission started on Andros Island by Fr. Chrysostom.  Fr. Gabriel Roerig, OSB builds the first Catholic Church in Behring Point. 


1897 First Annual Catholic Bazaar.


1908 Fr. Chrysostom established a mission at San Salvador.  


1931 The Bahama Mission, now a Prefecture, was detached from the Archdiocese of New York and placed under the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome. 


1934 Bishop Bernard Kevenhoerster, OSB installed as the first Vicar Apostolic Bishop of Nassau.


1937 Blessed Martin de Porres Convent, first local religious community, established on Polhemus Estate, Nassau Street, (current location) with the blessings of Bishop J. Bernard Kevenhoerster, OSB by Fr. Bonaventure Hansen, OSB.  The first three candidates were  Winifred (Sr. Elizabeth) Claridge, Lezretta (Sr. Maria) Rahming, and Avis (Sr. Theresa) Symonette.


1945 Fr. Frederic Frey founded St. Augustine’s College in the “Niche” (on the Priory Grounds) with 35 boys.  It was established to give Catholic youths, especially a greater opportunity for secondary education and to promote priestly vocations.  


1947 St. Augustine Monastery was formed as a dependent priory of St. John's Abbey.  Fr. Frederic Frey, OSB was its first prior.  


1949 Sir Cyrus Davis the first Bahamian lay man to receive highest Papal Honour of the Knights of the Order of St. Gregory along with Englishman Sr. Ronald Langton-Jones.


1950 Fr. Paul Leonard Hagarty, OSB was consecrated Titular Bishop of Arba and installed as the second Vicar Apostolic of The Bahamas.  


1956 Fr. Arthur Chapman ordained the first diocesan priest for The Bahamas.


1957 Son-of-the soil, Charles L. Coakley ordained the first Bahamian diocesan priest on the Feast of Corpus Christi.   The Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan arrived.  Aquinas College began on January 4, 1957.


1958 Fr. Brendan Forsyth, OSB appointed first Superintendent of Catholic Schools of the Vicariate.   The Gray Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Pembroke, Ontario arrived in The Bahamas.  The last five of the Gray Sisters left The Bahamas in 2003.


1960 The Church in The Bahamas elevated to a diocese.  St. Francis Xavier  Church formally established as its Cathedral.  Bishop Paul Leonard Hagarty, OSB is now Bishop of Nassau.


1973 Fathers Preston A. Moss and John Finger made domestic prelates with the title of Monsignor by Pope Paul VI.   Peter Rahming and Lawrence Bethel were ordained the first two permanent deacons of the Diocese.  


1975 Monsignor Preston A. Moss appointed the first Vicar General of the diocese.


1979 Pope John Paul II paid a pastoral visit to The Bahamas and was received at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre (now Thomas A. Robinson Stadium).  This was the first English speaking country that the Holy Father visited.


1981 Father Lawrence Aloysius Burke, SJ of Jamaica consecrated Bishop of Nassau.


1999 Diocese of Nassau elevated to an Archdiocese.  The Most Rev. Lawrence Burke installed as first Archbishop of Nassau, the Metropolitan See.


2004 The Most Reverend Patrick Christopher Pinder consecrated Archbishop of Nassau.  The New St. Francis Xavier Cathedral dedicated.


2006 Fr. George Wolf, OSB returned to St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota after 60 years in The Bahamas, ending an era of the presence of the Benedictine Monks in The Bahamas.


2007 The last Sister of Charity of Mount St. Vincent bid farewell to the people of The Bahamas. 


2008  The New Aquinas College buildings groundbreaking at Gladstone Road.  Catholic Education in The Bahamas celebrates 120 years.


2009 Dedication of the New Aquinas College on Gladstone Road.


Source:  Bahama Catholic.  “The Archdiocese of Nassau Celebrates 50th Anniversary” page 6