Parish History

St. Francis By The Sea Catholic Church
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Saint Francis by the Sea evolved with $40,000. of seed money from the Holy Family Building Fund established in 1983.

Father Joe Majewski a Redemptorist became our first Pastor, and the first mass was celebrated on the first Sunday of Advent, 1984 at Tom Reilly's Crazy Crab Restaurant. From 1985 to 1987 mass was also celebrated at the First Presbyterian Church and the Hilton Head Elementary School.

In 1985, the present site of land was bought by the diocese from Greenwood Development Corporation which was planning development of Palmetto Hall Plantation. This location was ideal since most of the early parishioners lived in Port Royal and Hilton Head Plantation.

Six years after the first mass at the Crazy Crab, Bishop Thompson dedicated our new church building, a great tribute to Father Joe and the many parishioners with vision and dedication back in the late 1980's.

In December 1993, a campaign to raise funds for the rectory office building, parking and landscaping was undertaken - $3,700,000. was raised.

In 1994, the Family Center was added to the master plan at a cost of $1,900,000. 1,100 families of the parish pledged $1,500. each over three years to complete this task.

In late 1995, the Bishop authorized the building of the Columbarium, a self financing project allowing for the creation of 2,000 niches.

In February 1996, the beloved Father Joe was transferred to Hampton VA, and replaced by Father Martin Laughlin who had been Pastor of St. Peters on Ladys Island. While Father Laughlin served for less than one year, he was the primary force in starting the St. Francis Catholic School buildings. Initially Pre-K and Kindergerten started in the Fall of 1996 and the building program reached fullness under Pastor, Father Michael McCafferty, in 1997.

     In 2004, Father McCafferty left the parish and was replaced by Father Laughlin as Pastor . Father Laughlin remained at St. Francis until he was transferred to a parish near Charleston in 2005. In mid 2005, Father Michael Oenbrink came to St. Francis as Pastor.




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Thomas D. Reilley Sr. 10668

8 Ellils Court
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926