St. Cecilia Church was built in 1956 by Mr. Tom Dean. The resident pastor at the time was Fr. Arthur Chapman. He was both the architect and supervisor for the construction of the church. Father Chapman was the first Pastor of St. Cecilia Church and served the community of St. Cecilia until 1971 when he left The Bahamas.
The community at St. Cecilia when it opened its door was a small one. It was made up namely of children who would join Fr. Chapman for Sunday Mass and Evening Devotions. The church community began to grow as many became converted to the Catholic Faith. The movement of Bahamians from the out-islands to New Providence also began to grow the community at St. Cecilia Church. Additionally, the opening of the St. Cecilia Catholic School in 1956 began to grow persons to the Catholic faith through religion classes. St. Cecilia School eventually grew to a nine classroom institute that year.
In January of 1957, Bishop Paul Leonard Hagarty invited the Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada to The Bahamas. They accepted and in December of the same year arrived in New Providence. The first sisters to arrive were Sister Ellen Teresa, the first Headmistress of St. Cecila School; Sister Suzanne (Kathleen Roy); and Sister Ruth (Shirley Potvin).
Father Chapman and the Sisters worked tirelessly to grow the Church as well as the School. They played a vital role in the lives of their students. They visited their homes and discussed goals of the school with parents. The Sisters work reached far outside the St. Cecilia community to numerous charity groups and organizations throughout New Providence. Their devotion was always to building the St. Cecilia Church community in The Grove.
To ensure the Catholic faith and community survived, the sisters focused on establishing youth groups and taught Sunday School. Their focus was to build leaders in the Grove Community. These leaders were to work beside them to accomplish the goals of the church.
As the years passed, many Pastors served at St. Cecilia including: Father Silvan [Bromenshenkel], Father Remy David, Father Benedict Folger, Father Gerald Stock, Father Thomas Buyers, Father Paul Pendergast, Father Tom Brislin, Father Glen Nixon, Father Alain Laverne and Father Simeon Roberts. Former Pastors.
Both Sisters Carol Spencer and Jean Mongeau served as Administrators of the Parish over the years. These ladies devoted their lives to building the faith community of St. Cecilia nurturing the souls and minds of the people. The Sisters were instrumental in ensuring that various committees within the Church were created as established by Vatican II. These groups were namely The Liturgical Committee, The Parish Council, Ladies Auxiliary, and the Men's Group. Today all of these groups including the youth group remain functional.
In 2001, a new edifice was erected as part of the former Archbishop Lawrence A. Burke of Nassau and Bernuda, vision for the Catholic Diocease in reaching and serving its community. The Church was designed by a local architectual firm, Henry A. Hepburn and Associates, Architects RIBA, AIA, ASID.
The parish community of St. Cecilia stands strong due to the commitment and involvement of its parishioners.
Today, St. Cecilia continues to grow in numbers, strength and commitment to one another.
People helping People is allowing the church to serve The Grove community well.
adapted from St. Cecilia Parish, 50th Anniversary Banquet, Souvenir Booklet
Msgr. Simeon Roberts
Director of Children's Ministry