St. Frances Academy is the oldest Catholic school in the United States
dedicated to the education of African-Americans. The history of our school is strongly
tied to the history of Mother Lange and the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Follow the
links to learn more about:
Saint Frances Academy continues today as a four-year state-accredited,
college-preparatory high school. It is at its original location on 501 East
Chase Street. While its location is in the heart of the inner
city, St. Frances draws its student-body from Baltimore City, as well as Baltimore
County and outlying areas of Maryland and Washington, D.C. An impressive 95% of its graduates go on to college and/or enter
successfully into the world of industry and business. The school has grown quickly over
the past five years, from 130 students in 1991 to 230 students in 1996. Special programs such as Boys To Men (for young men)
and Sisters (for young women) help our students develop into future leaders for the African-American community.
St. Frances is very dependent upon the generosity of others. Computers have
been donated to the school from the USF&G corporation, Loyola College, NASA, and
NSA. In addition, local colleges such as: Loyola College; University of Baltimore; and the College
of Notre Dame of Maryland, let us use their facilities for athletic events, since we do
not have a gymnasium at the school. Teams practice at Madison Square, a local public grade school.
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The SFA girls basketball team had a good season in 1995-1996, but in the previous year
they were also the Baltimore Catholic League regular season and tournament champions. That was the first time
in the history of the Baltimore Catholic League that both the boys and girls champions
were from the same school. Click here to see a picture of the SFA
This past year, SFA had its first wrestling team. The team showed much
improvement over the course of the year and much courage by stepping on the mat
against seasoned veterans. The team ended its season by traveling to Watkins Glen
, New York to participate in the Watkins Wrestling Festival. Click here to see a
picture of the SFA Wrestling Panthers team.
The SFA cheerleaders are an important part of Saint Frances Academy. We are
the Panthers and our team colors are black and gold. Click here to see a
to see a picture of the SFA Cheerleaders. They lead us in school
The Congregation of the of the Oblate Sisters of Providence of Baltimore City was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1829. Rev. James Hector Nicholas Joubert, a French Sulpician priest, began this Order of Woman Religious of Color with four devout women of color as its first members. They were:
These four Oblates were well-educated "woman of means" who under the direction of Father Joubert addressed the need for education for the children of color in ante-bellum Baltimore. They pronounced their first Vows of Religious Profession on July 2, 1829.
The first Oblate Sisters, as far as history and tradition inform, were of African Ancestry: photos indicate that Elizabeth Lange was a Typical African-French Descendant, her birthplace assumed to have been the country of Haiti; Madeline Balas and Rosine Boegue were from Santo Domingo; Theresa Almaide Duchemin was a mulatto young woman from Baltimore. These were the first Four Oblates. Duchemin was the daughter of a Haitian woman and a White plantation owner in Maryland. Our history indicates that they came to this country in the wake of the 1793 Haitian Revolution, when many of that time fled to the States for safety and security.
Their first school was in their own home on Richmond Street in old northwest Baltimore. They began with eleven boarders and twelve day scholars. In 1870 the Sisters opened a new convent at the intersection of Chase and Forest Streets in East Baltimore in order to accommodate the fast growing enrollment of pupils. Named for their Patron saint, St. Frances of Rome, the convent was known as "St. Frances Orphanage for Colored Girls." It continued as a Boarding Academy and Day School until 1926 when, in keeping with an Archdiocesan Ordinance, all orphan institutions were abolished in the archdiocese of Baltimore.
From 1926 until 1972, St. Frances Academy was a Boarding School for girls, owned and operated by the Oblate Sisters of Providence, with elementary through high school classes.
In 1972 the Boarding School was discontinued and the Academy functioned as a college preparatory school for a coed student body. The building was renovated to accommodate the academic and curriculum needs of its new focus. The revised educational focus encompassed high school curricula and those arts and sciences essential to college-preparatory studies and incumbent upon a state-accredited institution.
Today there are approximately 127 members of the Oblate Congregation of professed status; two young women in Initial Formation; fifty-seven members serving in the mission fields; approximately 25 inactive due to age or poor health; and approximately 40 active members residing at the mother-house.
The Oblate Sisters of Providence engage mainly in the apostolate of
education: they staff parish schools; minister as pastoral associates;
conduct Child Development/Day Care Centers in two locations -- Baltimore and
Philadelphia; serve in several parish Outreach Neighborhood Programs;
conduct missionary activities in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic;
operate a Remedial Reading Center at the Motherhouse; serve in the
Hispanic Religious Education Programs in the Archdiocese of Baltimore
and in the Hispanic Apostolate in Charleston, South Carolina; conduct
Retreat Programs for Church and civic groups; share our Motherhouse
facilities with church and civic groups; visit the sick in hospitals;
tutor/instruct adults in base skills; and make time available to meet the needs of the laity -- young and old.
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