Parish History

History of Our Lady Star of the Sea

Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church had a very humble beginning. In 1952, Monsignor Richard Madden, pastor of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach saw the need for a summer mission in the north end of the Grand Strand. With the permission of Bishop Russell, Mass was celebrated in the Ocean Drive Theatre on Sundays during the summer. In the off-season, the five resident families traveled to Myrtle Beach. These families became the charter members of St. Andrew’s Mission North.

Beginning with the Winter of 1955-56, Mass was celebrated in the lobby of the Ocean Drive Motel by Msgr. Madden, Rev. Edward Mullen and Rev. Joseph Tobin. At this time, Bishop Russell received a gift of parcel of land from Mrs. Elizabeth Tilghman in memory of her husband, Charles, and in honor of their children, Charles T. William, Mary Elizabeth and Catherine.

In 1960, Bishop Paul Hallinan decided it was time to form a separate parish. Fr. Henry Burke became the first resident  Pastor of this mission. Masses were celebrated in various places and a savings fund was established. In 1961, Rev. David J. Schiller succeeded Fr. Burke as permanent Pastor and in 1962 the name, “Our Lady Star of the Sea”, was submitted to the Bishop. With his full approval, it became the official name of our church.

In 1963, Bishop Reh gave permission to start work on a new church building. With only 30 year-round families, monies were donated and borrowed and the new church was ready for use in Easter 1964 at the cost of approximately $85,500, and seating about 400 people. Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler dedicated the church in 1965. By 1973, Masses were so heavily attended that Fr. Schiller submitted the names of nine men to Bishop Unterkoefler to be commissioned Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Our Lady Star of the Sea became the second church in the Diocese to have this honor bestowed on lay men. Following Fr. Schiller, Fr. Edward Mullen served as Pastor for one year and then Fr. Peter K. Berberich was appointed. At that time, the church also needed extensive repairs amounting to approximately $30,000, but with the help of parishioners and visitors, the building was repaired and the original mortgage was retired.

After six years as pastor, Fr. Berbeich was reassigned. His successor was Msgr. Thomas A. Jellico, who after a year, returned to retirement. Fr. Michael O’Connor was then appointed pastor. Overflow crowds in the summer of 1981 prompted Fr. O’Conner to receive permission from Bishop Unterkoefler to celebrate the 1982 Easter Masses in the North Myrtle Beach Community Center. Approximately 2,000 people attended the 10:00 am Mass. A few years later, an all-purpose addition to the church was built. Fr. James Parker replaced Fr. O’Connor as pastor in 1989, and in January 1990, Bishop Thompson and former Pastors were guests of honor at a special dinner to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Our Lady Star of the Sea.

In March 1990, Rev. George Moynihan was appointed Pastor by Bishop Thompson. By this time, there were over 500 registered parishioners.

The parish grew rapidly and land was purchased next to the existing church with the knowledge that a larger church would soon be necessary. In 1994, Fr. George instituted a pledge drive to raise funds to build the new church, and in 1996, Bishop Thompson gave permission to begin construction of a new 1500 seat church building. On April 26, 1997, the Dedication of the new church took place with The Most Rev. David B. Thompson, Bishop, presiding, and assisted by Rev. George F. Moynihan.

During the following year construction began on the Bell Tower, Walkway, Columbarium and Prayer Garden. The old church building was remolded to include additional office space and classrooms, and the kitchen facilities were enlarged. The total cost of the complete building project amounted to $5.3 million. $1.7 million was borrowed and the remainder came from memorials, fundraisers and the generosity of the parishioner and visitors.

On May 5, 1998, in honor of Father George’s 50th birthday, the parishioners of Our Lady Star of the Sea, with the approval of the Diocese, surprised him with officially naming the renovated old church building, “The Moynihan Parish Center”. By this time, Our Lady Star of the Sea had grown to over 1400 registered year-round families.

In June 2004, Rev. Philip M. Grant was appointed Parochial Vicar at Our Lady Star of the Sea to assist Rev. George Moynihan who was ill. Sadly, on August 30, 2004 Father George passed away. Rev. Grant continued as Administrator Pro Tem until Rev. Gregory Wilson was officially appointed Administrator of Our Lady Star of the Sea on January 12, 2005.

A new pledge drive to expand the existing parish center was instituted in 2006; however, a Diocesan-wide moratorium on building delayed the building plans until permission was finally granted for construction to begin in 2009. During this period, in April 2008, Bishop Baker appointed Rev. Robert Higgins as Administrator of Our Lady Star of the Sea, and in November 2009, Rev. Jacob Joseph was named Parochial Vicar. Also during 2009, the Diocese purchased Holy Trinity Catholic School, and in August, it opened with 19 children in Grades PreK through third, as a ministry of Our Lady Star of the Sea. The construction of the new addition, which included a large banquet hall, new kitchen, 10 meeting rooms, and a new section to the existing Columbarium, was completed in 2010, at a cost of $2.2 million, and was paid in full from savings.

In August 2010, Bishop Gugielmone appointed Rev. D. Anthony Droze as the new Pastor, and in December 2010, Rev. Robert J. Sayer was appointed the new Parochial Vicar. In March 2011, Fr. J. Orlando Cheverria Jimenez was also appointed as a Parochial Vicar to develop a regional Hispanic Ministry. In February of 2014 Rev. Sayer was assigned to another parish. Rev. Michael P. Cassabon was appointed the Parochial Vicar.

Today, Our Lady Star of the Sea has over 2,300 registered year round families, as well was a large number of visiting tourists and “snowbirds” from the North who stay from November until April.