SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – Stella Maris Catholic Church on Sullivan’s Island has reached a major milestone.
On Wednesday, church leaders and parishioners celebrated 177 years of Stella Maris after the pandemic postponed what was supposed to be the 175th anniversary two years ago.
“This parish has been through war, earthquake, flooding, economic depression, and we’re still here,” said Father Lawrence McInerny.
Stella Maris’ very first mass took place on June 22, 1845. The church was originally housed in a wood-frame building, a block down the road from its current location.
The foundation of the church is rich in history. It was built with bricks from Fort Moultrie, and the wooden panels surrounding the altar are said to have come from a boat that washed ashore during a storm in 1893.
Stella Maris has stood the test of time throughout the island’s history.
“The church helped us out during Hugo. We came down here, first mass after Hugo, we had in the church hall,” said Sullivan’s Island Fire Chief Anthony Stith.
Stith is a descendant of some of the church’s very first parishioners. Many of his family’s major milestones took place within the walls of Stella Maris, such as weddings and baptisms.
The same can be said for 93-year-old Doris Lancaster. She was baptized at Stella Maris in 1928. Years later, she would go on to marry her husband there. She said the church served as a place of comfort when he died.
“I don’t know what I’d do without the church, I love it. It’s beautiful. And not only beautiful, I love faith. I love my faith very much,” said Lancaster.
To parishioners and church leaders, Stella Maris’ longstanding history is seen as a blessing.
As for the future of the church, Father McInerny said they hope to build a new hall.