114 Years of Service in the Bahamas, 1891 – 2005


At the opening of the Bahama Benedictine Centennial in January, 1991, Sir Henry Taylor, Acting Governor General of the Bahamas, paid tribute to the missionary monks of Saint John’s with these words: “The work of the Benedictines in the Bahamas is beyond anyone’s estimation.” Key dates in the history of Benedictine monks in the Bahamas include:

February 2, 1891
Chrysostom Schreiner, OSB, arrives in Nassau and finds 65-70 Catholics at Saint Francis Xavier Church, built in 1885-86.

April 4, 1892
Father Chrysostom is shipwrecked near San Salvador Island and vows to continue his work in the Bahamas if his life is spared. The ship’s passengers and crew are rescued.

June 23, 1893
Chrysostom purchases Dunmore House (built in 1786) which, as “The Priory,” becomes the headquarters for Benedictines who begin to arrive.

December 29, 1921
Alcuin Deutsch, OSB, is elected fifth abbot of Saint John’s Abbey. He begins to aggressively support the Bahama missions with personnel and money.

January 3, 1928
Chrysostom dies on San Salvador Island where he had retired. He is buried overlooking a probable site of Columbus’ landing in 1492.

December 21, 1933
Bernard Kevenhoerster, OSB, is con- secrated first Bishop of the Bahamas.

January 4, 1945
A school for thirty-five boys is started by Frederic Frey, OSB, with classes held on the grounds of the Priory.

January 13, 1947
First classes are conducted at the newly constructed SAC in the Fox Hill section of Nassau.

August 7, 1947
Benedictine monks occupy the newly constructed SAM adjacent to the college.

December 9, 1949
Bishop Bernard dies.During his tenure new parishes were founded in Nassau and missions were established on the Family Islands of Andros, Long Island, Cat Island, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Bimini.

October 19, 1950
Paul Leonard Hagarty, OSB, is consecrated Bishop of the Bahamas.

June 2, 1954
David Mather, OSB, is the first Bahamian to profess monastic vows at SAM.

June 24, 1960
Boswell Davis, OSB, is the first Bahamian Benedictine to be ordained.

December 11, 1960
The Vicariate of the Bahamas is raised to the status of a diocese.

Burton Bloms, OSB, is appointed headmaster of SAC and a new era of expanded facilities and increased enrollment begins.

SAM becomes an independent priory. There is a gradual departure of community members. Xavier College, a girls’ school operated by the Sisters of Charity, merges with SAC.

Leviticus Adderly, the first Bahamian layman to teach at SAC, is appointed headmaster.

Jerome Theisen, OSB, eighth abbot of Saint John’s Abbey, is named apostolic administrator of SAM and SAC. He sends five monks from Saint John’s to assist the core community.

July 17, 1981
Bishop Paul Leonard, OSB, resigns and is succeeded by Lawrence Burke, SJ, of Jamaica. Bishop Leonard dies in 1984.

June 4, 1990
SAM relinquishes its status as an independent community and is again affiliated as a dependent community of Saint John’s.

April 17, 1997
Henry Neely, OSB, the last of the original Bahamian members of SAM, dies.

July 5, 1999
The Diocese of Nassau is elevated to the rank of Archdiocese.

June 27, 2003
Monsignor Patrick Pinder, graduate of SAC, is appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Nassau. On February 9, 2004, he is named Archbishop of the Nassau Archdiocese and Archbishop Burke becomes head of a Jamaica archdiocese.

March 31, 2004
The new Saint Francis Cathedral, costing six million dollars, with a seating capacity of 1300, is dedicated.

May 7, 2004
The Bahamian government approves the transfer of the governance of SAC to a lay board of directors.

June 30, 2005
The three remaining members of SAM begin to vacate the premises of the monastery.

Source: The Abbey Banner Spring 2005 (Pages 20-21)

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