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St Raymonds Girls & Boys High Schools in the Bronx

St Raymond's is the Oldest Catholic Church & Largest Cemetery in the Bronx

parkchester neighborhood east bronx st raymonds catholic schools bronx nycDecember 10, 2017 / Parkchester Neighborhood East Bronx / Bronx Private Schools / Bronx Buzz NYC.

This past summer I took a long bike ride from Central Bronx to City Island. As I made my way along a busy East Tremont Avenue, I noticed a near magnificent Church with expansive surrounding grounds. I shot a few photos, and studied it for a while, taking note that this was St Raymonds in the Bronx. The cross street was Castle Hill Avenue and it was located in the northeast corner of Parkchester.

When I returned home, I looked up St. Raymonds, where I discovered a great deal of history and lore about the institution dating back 175 years to the post Colonial / Pre-Modern era of the Bronx.

St. Raymond's Parish in Parkchester in the Bronx

The land upon which the Church now stands, was purchased in 1842 by Reverend John Hughes who converted the barn into a church. In 1843 construction on a proper church began, and it was completed two years later in 1845 on the feast day of St. Raymond Nonnatus - which is where the parish got its name. St. Raymond Nonnatus spent his life freeing Christians from captivity in the 13th century in Spain and is considered a patron saint of pregnant mothers, because he was delivered by Caesarean section and his mother died. The church was the first Roman Catholic church erected in the Bronx.


St Raymonds Girls & Boys High Schools in the Bronx

St Raymond's is the Oldest Catholic Church & Largest Cemetery in the Bronx

city island art fair city island neighborhood bronx nycDecember 10, 2017 / Parkchester Neighborhood East Bronx / Bronx Private Schools / Bronx Buzz NYC. Continued.

 

Irish Immigrants Settled in the Bronx in the mid / late 1800's

In the 1850's there was a wave of Irish immigrants and by the 1890's the original church with a capacity of 2,000 could not accommodate those who came to worship. In 1897 they began work on a new church, which was completed in 1898. That church still stands today and was the one I found so interesting.

St. Raymond's Cemetery in Schuylerville & Throgs Neck

The parish also had a cemetery next to it, which expanded to where the elementary school now stands. Sometime between 1875 and 1885 Reverend Michael McEvoy purchased land that was formerly the Underhill Farm in what is now the Schuylerville and Throgs Neck neighborhoods of the Bronx. The St. Raymond's burials were moved first to the Schuylerville location as it is nearest the Parkchester parish, and then into the 'new' cemetery, which is located in Throgs Neck.

St. Raymond's cemetery is the only Catholic cemetery in the Bronx, as well as its largest. The 180 acre site accommodates 4,000 burials annually and will be the permanent home to a half million people when filled to capacity. Most of the burials today occur in the new cemetery in Throgs Neck. And both cemeteries are in the neighborhood of a mile, or so, away from St. Raymond's Church.

St. Raymond's Catholic Elementary School in the Parkchester Neighborhood of the Bronx

St. Raymond's first began educating its congregation beginning in 1868, when two sisters began an elementary school. In 1909 they erected a new building, which was replaced by the current school, which was erected in 1951.

St. Raymond's elementary school has nearly 40 teachers, and it's student / teacher ratio is 22:1. About 900 children attend the elementary school and they are primarily of Latino and African American descent, followed by children of mixed parentage. The kids parents pay a little more than $4,000 per year in tuition, and for parents who send more than one child to the school, there's about a 50% discount for the second child. Members of the parish also receive a discount.

St. Raymond's School for Girls in the Parkchester Neighborhood of the Bronx

St. Raymond's School for Girls opened in 1960 and has a current enrollment of about 365 students. Originally the school was designed to accommodate the children of St. Raymond's parish, but in the mid 1960's they opened their doors to members of the surrounding communities.

Like the elementary school, many of the children are of Latin and African American descent. And those of Latin descent likely reflect the Latin demographics of the surrounding communities, which are Puerto Rican. St. Raymond's School for Girls has a 17:1 student / teacher ratio. The students' parents pay about $7,000 per year in tuition. About 80% of their graduates choose to go on to college, and some go on to some of the best colleges and universities.

St. Raymond's School for Boys in the Parkchester Neighborhood of the Bronx

St. Raymond's School for Boys opened in 1963 with the intent to serve the children of its parish members. In 1966 the high school opened their enrollment to members of the surrounding communities and currently has an enrollment of over 600 students.

Like the elementary school and school for girls, the ethnic composition of St. Raymond's is of Latin and African American descent, reflecting the demographics of some of the surrounding communities. The Boys School also costs about $7,000 per student and has a competitive 11:1 student / teacher ratio. All of their graduates are reportedly accepted by one or more colleges.

Today, St. Raymond's parish is comprised of about 1,500 to 2,000 families. St. Raymond's parish, schools and cemetery serve the Parkchester, Westchester Square, Morris Park, Schuylerville, Unionport and the greater Bronx area.

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