A Brief History of the Catholic Church in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
French settlers and colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries brought the Roman Catholic Faith to our islands while missionary priests from the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) traveling from Guadeloupe and Grenada sustained and nurtured that Faith. Around 1653 at the invitation of a son of the Carib Chief Babu, Fr. Guillaume Aubergeon, S.J. along with Fr. Guerimu, S.J. took up residence at Barrouallie and maintained this missionary post until their murder by Caribs in 1701. It wasn’t until 1710 that Catholic priests, brought by French immigrants from Martinique, a gain resided in St. Vincent. However, when the British took control of the island, and the French returned to Martinique in 1784 the Catholic priests were required to leave.
The arrival of Fr. Joseph Antoine Rendon, S.J. in 1815 marked the rejuvenation of the Roman Catholic Church here. Despite strong opposition Fr. Rendon built the first Church, a wooden structure, on the site of the present Cathedral. In the ensuing 150 years St. Vincent’s Catholics owed a good part of their nurture to the efforts of various religious Orders: 1912 – 1919 the F.M.J. Fathers (Congregation of the Sons of Mary Immaculate) under the guidance of Fr. Claustre from St. Lucia; 1919 – 1957. The Benedictine Fathers under the guidance of, among other, Fr. Charles Verbeke (25 yrs) with whom particulars credit rests for a comprehensive building programme; 1957 marked the arrival of the Scarboro Foreign Missionary Society under the leader of Fr. Roland Roberts.
Over the years other religious Orders have come to minister to the faithful and propagate the faith. Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny (1856 – 1859, 1941 – present): Corpus Christi Carmelites (1961 – present); De la Salle Brothers (1965 – 1999), Sisters of Loretto (1986); and the Dominican Sisters (1993 – 1996).
The Catholic Church saw much activity in the Grenadines with the advent of Fr. Robert Divonne, O.S.B in 1972. He was very instrumental in developing the educational and social life of the people.
On March 17 1970, Rev. Anthony Dickson was appointed Bishop of Bridgetown (Barbados and Kingstown (St. Vincent) and the Church in Kingstown became a Co-Cathedral.
In January 1990, the Diocese of Kingstown came into being with the appointment of Rev. Robert Rivas, O.P. as its first Bishop and Pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption.