Saint Joseph Calasanz opened the first free school for boys at Saint Dorothy’s Church in Rome in 1597.  The concept grew quickly, and eventually, Calasanz’s co-workers began a new religious order, called the Piarists.  All men and women in the Catholic Church’s religious orders and congregations profess the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Following the mind of Calasanz, the Piarists also take a special fourth vow, “to educate the young, particularly the poor”.  Today, there are about 1,300 Piarists worldwide, and they minister in more than 40 countries.

In their Province of the United States and Puerto Rico, the Piarists work in the Archdioceses of Havana, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Quetzaltenango, San Juan, and Washington and in the Dioceses of Lexington, Ponce, and Tabasco.

There are 16 Provinces in the Piarist Order.  Each Province is encouraged to sponsor at least one mission.  The Province of the United States and Puerto Rico sponsors missions in five locations.  They are Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Kentucky.  Each of these mission sites is located in an impoverished area.

Fr. Oscar Alonso speaks with inhabitants of Macuspana, Mexico

In 1971, Father Mario Vizcaino spoke to his fellow religious and reminded them that the Piarists profess a special vow to educate, particularly the poor.  Since that time, Father Mario, other Piarist priests and seminarians, and numerous lay volunteers have visited Macuspana in the Diocese of Tabasco in Mexico for two to three weeks during the summer months.  They have helped the local Church by constructing parish churches and nearby chapels.  They also help prepare the people in this impoverished area to live the Gospel. 

In 1985, Father Thomas Carroll followed up on the goals of Father Mario.  He convinced his fellow Piarists to open a school in the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky in eastern Appalachia.  The area is extremely poor.  Since the Piarist School opened, every student has received a tuition-free Catholic education.

Students from the Piarist School in Hagerhill, KY.

The year 2021 was a year of real expansion for the Piarists’ missions. 

Students at the Piarists’ school in Cabrican Guatemala.

In January 2021, the Piarists assumed responsibility for a parish and three schools in the cities of Cabrican and Huitan in Guatemala.  In addition, they are also responsible for ministry in 31 nearby chapels.  Through the generosity of their benefactors, the children in the schools receive two free meals each day and have full access to the internet in newly renovated computer facilities.  No child is turned away from the schools because of financial difficulties.

From 1857 until the Communist takeover in Cuba, the Piarists operated schools throughout the country.  Unfortunately, the government closed all of the Catholic schools in the country and expelled all of the non-native-born priests.  In July 2021, the Piarists of the Province of the United States and Puerto Rico assumed responsibility for a parish church, a chapel, and socio-economic centers in Havana and in Guanabacoa, Cuba.  Life in these entities is vibrant.  The Piarists already have three native-born seminarians.  Through the generosity of their benefactors, they are trying to rebuild the church and chapel and provide non-formal educational programs in the socio-economic centers.  They also recently purchased a walk-in refrigerator.  Now the children in the socio-economic center in Guanabacoa can enjoy fresh and nutritious meals.

Finally, in August 2021, the Piarists assumed responsibility for a parish, eight chapels, and a school in Adjuntas in the Diocese of Ponce in Puerto Rico.  The people in the area are generally low to middle class.  No child is turned away from the school because of financial difficulties.

The Piarists distribute any funds, which they receive through its Mission Office, to their five missions.  The needs of each mission vary.  Generally, they include but are not limited to evangelization, food, education of youth, occupational skills training, construction projects (schools, churches, and latrines), professional preparation of teachers, basic needs (toiletries, medicine), youth ministry (Calasanz Movement), scholarship and tuition assistance, vocations promotion and sacramental ministry in the remote regions of our missions.

Piarists and Lay volunteers take part in ESPKAI.

For additional information about the Piarists’ ministry, please feel free to visit their web pages: and

You can support the Piarist Fathers Province of U.S.A. & Puerto Rico #2471 through your prayers and monetary donation by making a check payable to THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE FAITH, 3424 Wilshire Blvd 3rd Fl., Los Angeles CA 90010, memo #2471. You may also donate online by clicking the donate button. When making an online donation, reference #2471 in the Memo box. Your donation is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Mission Cooperative Plan