Our History and Legacy
Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish began in 1894, with the appointment of its first pastor, Reverend, P.J. Petri. Fourteen years later, in 1908, having arranged for the Sisters of Mercy to work in the ministry of education, Father Petri opened Our Lady Star of the Sea School, with eighty students who were primarily Irish-American Catholics.
The parish school continued under the leadership of the Sisters of Mercy through World War I, the Depression, and World War II. Eventually there were two classes of each grade. In 1949 local iron workers donated their services to build the school gymnasium in record time, an event often compared to a “barn raising”. The building, named Memorial Hall, was dedicated to the memory of those who had served the country in World War II. During this same time period, an extension was built onto the original school building, adding space for a library, resource room, and business office.
By the 1970’s, because Atlantic City had gone through a major decline in population, school enrollment dropped, resulting in one class of each grade. This was also when the school community, previously comprised of a nearly all Irish Catholic population, began to include students who were ethnically diverse and non-Catholic. In 1976 the Kindergarten opened and followed the next year with the addition of two Special Education classes, sponsored by the Diocese of Camden.
During the 1980’s the development of Atlantic City as a Casino Resort was moving at full speed. This brought tremendous employment opportunities for the many immigrants arriving from Asia, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean resulting in the community of Our Lady Star of the Sea becoming multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-denominational.