The History of Our Lady Star of the Sea
On September 1, 1973, Bishop William D Borders of the Diocese of Orlando formally established Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish. The continuing arrival of the permanent and seasonal residents in the area prompted the Diocese to begin the process of establishing an additional Catholic church in New Smyrna Beach.
Father Edward Condren arrived in September of 1973 as the first pastor of the parish. Weekend Masses were celebrated in the Coronado Elementary School cafeteria and daily Mass in the rectory on Oakwood Avenue.
Selection of a permanent site for the parish began with the arrival of Father Thomas Bergin in 1975. The newly formed parish council identified a suitable location and the capital campaign began in earnest in February of 1978. The goal of raising $260,000 became a major part of parish life with the Men’s Club and the Council of Catholic Women joining with the campaign committee in raising the funds needed. A door to door campaign, coupled with the growing commitment to have a physical church, resulted in the first Mass celebrated at Our Lady Star of the Sea on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1979. More than 300 families, permanent and winter parishioners, joined the celebration.
The 1980s saw great changes in Our Lady Star of the Sea. Increased parish membership and a growing number of winter residents made it apparent that a center for religious education classes, social groups, and church office staff was needed. Another successful capital campaign resulted in the construction of the Father Thomas Bergin Social Hall in 1981.
With the final payments on the church, social hall, and rectory completed, it became time to plan for the enlargement of the church. Once again, the Men’s Club and the Council of Catholic Women joined with their fellow parishioners in ensuring that the addition would be completed and paid for in a timely manner. 1989 ended with the completion of an addition which doubled the size of the original church.
Father John Murray’s arrival following Father Bergin’s retirement and untimely death in 2004 brough a new perspective to the parish. Father Murray quickly strengthened the solid core of volunteers and broadened participation with the growing number of winter visitors ready to find a temporary home within the parish.
Several large projects were completed during Father Murray’s tenure. The Father Bergin’s Social Hall was refurnbish in 2006 with all reminders of smoking during the famous Men’s Club bingo games banished.
The church was completely renovated in 2009 with the installation of new altar pieces, pews, tile, and carpeting to enhance the sacred space.
The largest project was the Alive in Christ, the Diocese of Orlando’s major fundraising event. As part of the last wave of parishes to participate, Our Lady Star of the Sea chose the Human Service Ministry as recipients of the parish portion of the project. With a Diocesan goal of $505,000, the parishioners committed to $675,000. This gift from the parish to the Human Service Ministry has enhanced our parish mission of helping those in need, the frail and elderly, families, and the homeless.
The retirement of Father Murray in 2013 brought the arrival of Father Patrick Quinn, TOR. Once again, our parish has continued to move in the growth of the faith and active involvement of parishioners in the broad variety of activities including parish activities fair for volunteer signup, AA meetings, grief support groups, parish Advent and Easter day retreats, enrichment programs in faith, Vespers, health checks and programs directed by the parish nurse, chair yoga, a new youth group, and the junior choir among other projects.
Although, in the over forty years of Our Lady Star of the Sea, some organizations such as the Men’s Club have passed into their storied place in the core of the beginnings of the parish, new volunteers and new activities has taken their place. Our Lady Star of the Sea continues to grow with new parishioners in the same faith that bound the first members who attended Mass at Coronado Elementary School determined to build a parish for all.