A Bahamas Chronology (Winter, 1991)


The following selective chronology of key dates in the 100-year history of Saint John’s Benedictines in the Bahamas has been gathered from Upon These Rocks by Father Colman Barry [Collegeville: Saint Johns Abbey Press, 1973] and articles by Fathers Elias Achatz and Silvan Bromenshenkel. – Saint John’s Abbey Quarterly (Winter, 1991)

2 February 1891 – Father Chrysostom Schreiner arrives in Nassau where there are 65-70 Catholics at Saint Francis Xavier Church, built in 1885-86.

4 April 1892 – Fathers Chrysostom and Paul Rettenmaier are shipwrecked near San Salvador Island. Father Chrysostom vows to continue his work in the Bahamas if his life is spared. He is rescued.

8 January 1893 – A select academy for several students is opened by Father Chrysostom but is soon closed due to the drain on resources.

21 June 1893 -Father Chrysostom purchases Dunmore House (built in 1786), a two-storey structure once used as a military hospital. Henceforth called ‘The Priory,” this becomes the headquarters for Benedictines in the Bahamas.

1894 – Father Gabriel Roerig begins his work on Andros Island where he is stationed for the next 55 years. Father Melchoir Bahner establishes Sacred Heart Church in Nassau.

1910 – Chrysostom constructs ‘The Bungalow” on Priory grounds, a guest house for visiting clergy and laity.

1920 – Fr. Bonaventure Hansen arrives to work in Nassau and on Harbour Island.

21 December 1921 – Abbot Alcuin Deutsch elected fifth abbot of Saint John’s Abbey. He soon begins aggressively to support the Bahama missions with personnel and financial aid.

November, 1924 – Father Hildebrand Eickhoff becomes Prior of the Bahamas, enlarges Saint Francis Xavier Church, builds Our Lady’s Church.

10 July 1925 – Father Chrysostom retires to San Salvador Island which he believed was the site of Columbus’ 1492 landing.

3 January 1928 – Father Chrysostom dies in his sleep on San Salvador and is buried there overlooking a probable site of Columbus’ landing.

1929 – Father Bernard Kevenhoerster arrives in the Bahamas.

21 March 1929 – The Bahamas are erected as a prefecture apostolic under the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith.

9 June 1931 – Father Bernard Kevenhoerster named first prefect apostolic of the Bahamas prefecture.

21 December 1933-Father Bernard consecrated Bishop of the Bahamas prefecture.

1937 – A community of native Bahamian Sisters under the patronage of Blessed Martin de Porres is founded by Father Bonaventure Hansen.

4 January 1945 – A school for 35 boys is started by Father Frederic Frey with classes held in a building called ‘The Niche” on the grounds of the Priory.

13 January 1947 – First classes conducted at the newly constructed Saint Augustine’s College in the Fox Hill section of Nassau.

7 August 1947- Benedictine monks occupy the newly constructed Saint Augustine’s Monastery.

9 December 1949-Bishop Bernard Kevenhoerster dies. During his years as Bishop of the Bahamas new parishes had been founded in Nassau and missions were established on the Family Islands of Andros, Long Island, Cat Island, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Bimini, and Cat Cay.

25 June 1950-Father Paul Leonard Hagarty is nominated Vicar Apostolic of the Bahamas and is consecrated Bishop in Our Lady’s Church, Nassau, on 19 October 1950.

2 June 1954- Brother David Mather is the first native Bahamian to make his first vows as a Benedictine monk.

24 June 1960 – Father Boswell Davis, the first Bahamian Benedictine priest, is ordained.

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

2 September 1963 – The Bahamian Sisters of Saint Martin de Porres are affiliated with the Benedictine community of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph, Minnesota.

1963 – Father Silvan Bromenshenkel appointed Prior of Saint Augustine’s Monastery.

1963 – Father Burton Bloms is appointed headmaster of Saint Augustine’s College and a new era of expanded facilities and increased enrollment begins.

1967 – Saint Augustine’s Monastery becomes an independent priory. Father Bonaventure Dean becomes prior and headmaster of the school.

1967 – Xavier’s College, a school for girls operated by the Sisters of Charity, merges with Saint Augustine’s College.

1971 – Father Elias Achatz appointed prior of the monastery and Father Theophile Brown, headmaster of the school.

1972 – Mr. Leviticus Adderly, the first layperson to teach at Saint Augustine’s College, is appointed headmaster.

1981 – Abbot Jerome Theisen is named apostolic administrator of Saint Augustine’s Monastery and College. Father Theophile Brown is appointed prior.

17 July 1981 – Bishop Paul Leonard resigns as Bishop of Nassau. He is succeeded by Bishop Lawrence Burke, S.J.

22 September 1984 – Bishop Paul Leonard dies.

4 June 1990 – Saint Augustine’s Monastery is reaffiliated with Saint John’s Abbey as a dependent community.

December, 199O – Saint Augustine’s College launches its 45th Anniversary Campaign Fund to raise money for a ten-year development program.

14 January 1991 – The Bahama Benedictine Centennial officially opens with an historical exhibition.

Source: Saint John’s Abbey Quarterly (Winter, 1991)

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