History

On the 24th December 1652, Jesuit Denis Meland wrote to Father Goswin Nickel, 10th General of the Society of Jesus:

"On this Eve of Our Lord’s Nativity, I write to my Father in God to announce to him Good Tidings of Great Joy. The tidings are that a door is open wide to the Gospel."

Father Meland who had just been relieed of his duties as Superior in the Islands of the Caribbean Sea had arrived on the mainland of South America in company with savages of the Islands, whose friendship he had won and he was to meet on the mainland, other savages called Caribs, whom he already knew and who made him welcome to their land and whom he hoped would lead him to the wide lands of Guiana. Guiana in those days meant all the lands (at least all the coastland) from the Amazon to the Orinoco. Four years before Fr. Meland’s arrival, the Peace of Westphalia had established the Religious Frontiers of the States of modern Europe in accordance with the dictum, Cuius Regio Eius Religio (“The Religion of a People depends on its Sovereign”). Fr Meland was, therefore, to arrive at a Guiana already divided up between the various European Powers who had settled it. Portuguese (Brazilian) Guiana, Cayenne (French Guiana), Dutch Guiana from the rivers of Marowijn to Essequibo, and Spanish Guiana (Venezuela) by the Orinoco leaving in this last division a major problem to be settled in the late 19th century, i.e. whether the Essequibo was a river frontier between the Spanish and the Dutch or extended to a vast area west of that river belonging to the Dutch. The religious patterns of the territories followed those of their European Sovereigns. It will be observed that the Dutch no-catholic sovereign was surrounded by Catholic Sovereigns which was to have a great deal of influence on the development of religion in Dutch Guiana a part of which was later to become British Guiana. In the 17th and 18th centuries, 111 Jesuits, successors to Fr. Melanad worked in French Guiana; 170 Capuchins from Catalonia evangelized Spansih Guiana in the same period. As for the lands held by the Dutch which includes this land of Guyana in which we live today there is little to record of the practice of any kind of Christianity much less efforts at evangelism during the 17th and 18th Centuries. The only significant work of Christianity was recorded at the end of the 18th Centuries. The only significant work of Christianity was recorded at the end of the 18th century when the Moravian Brethren were permitted to open a Mission in the 1780’s amongst the slaves of the Comewijn and shortly after amongst the slaves of Berbice. A few Catholic Priests tried to make a start in Paramaribo. It is recorded by the Moravian Brothers of one these Catholic Priests namely Fr Kirsten that he bid them a friendly farewell. He was constantly sick and as a god-fearing man, the Christians that he encountered seemed god-less to him. At the same time, an English Jesuit, James Chamberlain worked for 10 years in Demerara until his death in 1779.

1769-1779

Fr. James Chamberlain SJ arrived at Demerara and worked until his death in 1779.

1780-1782

Fr. Leonard Neale of Maryland arrived at Demerara and served for two years

1782-1783

Fr. Edward Leindekir was serving at Demerara

1783-1819

No resident priest in Dutch Guiana

1817

Independence struggle in Venezuela. Simon Bolivar massacred nearly all the priests in the Caroni Mission who were loyal to the Spanish King (Spanish Speaking, presently Venezuela). A number of the Amerindians passed between the Waini and Pomeroon Rivers to take up residence on the Moruka in British territory.

1819

Vicar Apostolic James Buckley was appointed by Rome to take charge of the Catholic Church in the English and Danish possession from Jamaica to Guiana. He resided at Port of Spain.

1824

James Buckley sent Fr. Joseph Anthony Rendon to Georgetown for the paschal season

1825

Fr. Rendon’s Second Visit. A committee of Catholic Gentlemen was formed for the erecting a chapel. The committee comprised of Thomas Frankland, N.M. Manget, F. de Ridder, C.F. Milne and L. Fitzgeral.

12th November 1825

A corner stone was laid for the chapel at the site in Brickdam, which was granted by Sir Benjamin D’Urban, Governor

19th September 1826

Rev John Thomas Hynes, OP (27yrs) was appointed to British Guiana by Bishop Buckley. He stayed at the home Mr. Frankland until the chapel was completed.

1828

37 couples of African descendents were married. 418 adults were babtized.

1830

A deputation of Amerindians from Moruka came to Georgetown in 1830 to appeal to Fr Hynes OP for religious services at the settlement. He made a visit and baptized 75 children and married two couples.

May 1831

The church in Brickdam was consecrated and dedicated to the Savior. It was known as Christ Church.

1834

Fr. Hynes OP left British Guiana and Fr. William Rogers arrived to relieve him.

1837-1839

At Santa Rosa the Catholic Mission was established. Fr. Aploinaire Hernet was the first resident priest of the mission.

1840-1853

Fr. John Cullin remained 13 years in Santa Rosa Mission.

1838

Rev William Clancy was appointed first Vicar Apostalic to the Vicariate of British Guiana. (He was reported unsuitable)

22nd July 1838

Fr. Thomas Hynes OP was consecrated Bishop in Rome and was appointed as the Second Vicar Apostalic of British Guiana.

June 1843

After a lengthy squabble most damaging to new Vicariate, Clancy left Guiana

1847

Arrival of Ursuline Sisters from Ireland to British Guiana and; thereafter in 10 years they established St. Rose’s Secondary School for girls, St. Anna’s Orphanage for girls, and its accompanying elementary school St. Angela.

25th October 1857

Bishop Thomas Hynes OP bade farewell to British Guiana.

March 1857

Arrival of British Jesuits Frs James Etheridge SJ, Aloysius Emiliani SJ and Clement Negri SJ

17th October 1858

Bishop James Etheridge, SJ was consecrated bishop at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm St, London.

13th February 1859

Bishop James Etheridge SJ was appointed the Administrator of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain and Apostolic Delegate to Haiti. He was the 3rd Vical Apostalic of British Guiana. During his governance, he brings in roughly 30 priests to evangelization.

30th August 1875

The Cathedral at Brickdam was dedicated to The Immaculate Conception by Bishop James Eheridge SJ

13 December 1877

Bishop Joseph Etheridge dies

1878

As the 4th Vicar Apostolic of British Guiana, Bishop Anthony Butler SJ was appointed. During his tenure he constructed as many schools as possible. FR. Clement Barraud SJ, the director of school education, under the leadership of the Bishop raised the number of schools from 7 to 31.

1879

Fr. Casati starts boys’ orphanage at Plaisance

1894

The arrival of Sisters of Mercy to British Guiana. They instantly took over Carmel school and the Sacred Heart Girls School

1897

Sisters of Mercy opened St. Joseph’s High School

25th August 1901

Bishop Butler died and had a full military funeral

19 October 1902

As the 5th Vicar Apostolic of British Guiana, Bishop Compton Theodore Galton SJ was consecrated and appointed. He concentrated mainly on mission in the interior.

April 1905

Bishop Galton started “The Catholic Standard”. The first Editor Fr. Charles Cooksey, SJ.

7th March 1913

Wooden Cathedral was destroyed by fire

1925

Rebuilding of Cathedral was completed

10th April 1931

Bishop Galton died and the coffin was placed in the Crypt before the High Altar.

6th Vicar Apostolic of British Guiana, Bishop George Weld SJ. During his time he added 16 more schools to the number of 50 Catholic Schools in the Colony; 11 of these in the interior.

17th October 1954

As the 7th Vicar Apostolic of British Guiana , Bishop Richard Lester Guillly, SJ. was consecrated at the Church of Immaculate Conception

29th February 1956

Bishop Guilly SJ became the first Bishop of the diocese of Georgetown

1972

Bishop Benedict Singh, the first native Bishop was consecrated at the Cathedral of Immaculate conception

10 November 2003

Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB was appointed 3rd Bishop of the diocese of Georgetown