A BRIEF HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PREP
For over 150 years the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn have devoted themselves to an educational mission that has helped shape thousands upon thousands of young lives in very positive ways. In one of the first steps taken to fulfill this mission, the Brothers founded St. Francis Academy in Brooklyn in 1858, and since that time the school has provided an outstanding Catholic education in the Franciscan tradition for students from all walks of life. Today, we know the Academy as St. Francis Preparatory School, the largest, private, Catholic secondary school in the nation.
When the Diocese of Brooklyn—including all of Long Island—was first established in 1852, a priority of Bishop John Loughlin (the first Bishop of Brooklyn) was to promote Catholic education and build schools. An important adjunct to this educational mission was the staffing of these schools with Catholic teachers, and especially Brothers who would oversee the Boys’ schools. Accordingly, Bishop Loughlin applied to the Irish Congregation of Franciscan Brothers from Mount Bellew, County Galway, Ireland to begin the work of education in the Diocese.
In response to Bishop Loughlin’s invitation, Brothers John McMahon and Vincent Hayes arrived on May 31, 1858 to found a house for the Franciscan Brothers in America at 300 Baltic Street in Brooklyn. The building had once been a public school for the City of Brooklyn and then a Protestant Church. The Brothers reorganized the building and established their monastery in the basement and converted the upper floors into classrooms.
It was here, in humble surroundings that the proud tradition began. For more than 150 years the Prep has remained true to the Franciscan traditions of peace, love and respect for the individual, the community and the environment, making these traditions the fundamental building blocks upon which a strong institution stands today. Throughout its history, the abilities and talents of Prep students have been nurtured and strengthened in an environment centered on the teachings of Jesus Christ. In every way, St. Francis Prep remains a proud community of learning and teaching committed to a standard of excellence that is at the heart of its existence.
Over the years, the Prep has continually evolved to meet the needs of the times. Since those days in that simple building on Baltic Street in Brooklyn, the school has twice relocated, first in 1952 to North Sixth Street in Brooklyn and again in 1974 to its present Fresh Meadows location in Queens, at which point the Prep became a co-educational institution for the first time. As the Prep has grown and re-established itself in each new setting, it has steadfastly remained committed to fostering the intellectual and spiritual development of students who are experiencing the finest in Catholic education in the Franciscan tradition.
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