Coat of Arms

History of the Parish

1958:  The rapid growth of South Florida since the 1940s overtaxed the abilities of the Diocese of St. Augustine resulting in the creation of a new diocese comprising the 16 counties of South Florida.  In 1958, Bishop Coleman F. Carroll, was installed as the first Ordinary of the Diocese of Miami.

1970:  After seventy-two years of devoted service to the people of Key West, the Jesuits turned over the Parish of St. Mary Star of the Sea to the Archdiocese of Miami. Father John Q. Minvielle turned over the Parish to Father Charles Zinn, the previous chancellor of the Archdiocese. Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll of the Archdiocese of Miami presided over the formalities of the change of jurisdiction.

1983:  After 115 years, the services of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Key West came to an end.  With regrets to the community of Key West, Sister Virginia Dunn, S.N.J.M. the Provincial Director, announced that due to staffing problems, the Sisters of the Holy Names would not be able to continue their mission on the island.  This was a sad blow to the good people of St. Mary’s Parish and Key West.  The Sisters were always held in the highest esteem and loved dearly by people of all faiths on the island.

1986: Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy ordained Key West resident Kirby McClain as the first permanent Deacon at Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church on May 4. 

1986: The High School was closed due to declining enrollment and financial insolvency.  Although there were many signs that this was going to happen in the previous five years, nevertheless the actuality was still a shock to the Parish.  June 1986 saw the last graduating class of Mary Immaculate High School.  Saint Mary’s School was then moved into the old high school facilities and renamed Mary Immaculate Star of the Sea School.

1989: The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary burial grounds on the convent property were moved for the second and last time.  The remains of the 18 nuns, which had been buried in an isolated corner of the property, moved to a beautiful new area next to the Grotto. 

1992: After a major restoration of the Church building which began in 1987 with the guidance of an historic architect, Archbishop McCarthy consecrated the new altar and blessed the new furnishings on December 17th. Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church was declared and listed as a National and State Historical Site. Restored to its inherent beauty, the Church building facilitated the renewed stewardship of the parishioners.

1995:   The old Convent Chapel was restored as the Chapel of Divine Mercy on September 8th. Perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament began.

2000:  On November 18, Peter H. Batty of Key West was ordained a deacon by Archbishop John C. Favalora in Saint Mary Cathedral, Miami. Deacon Peter Batty, baptized in the Church of England in Salisbury, had entered the full Communion of the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in 1993, which he now directs.

2004: A rock garden behind the Convent and Renewal Center was transformed into a Stations of the Cross Garden, which was blessed by Bishop Felipe Estevez, Auxiliary Bishop of Miami, on December 12, 2004. The Stations are constructed of carrera marble with mosaics of the scene for each station, all framed in bronze, illuminated with night lights, and placed within a tropical garden.

2006:  Saint Mary Star of the Sea Outreach Mission was blessed by the Most Reverend Felipe Estevez, Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of Miami.

2010:  On June 1, Archbishop Thomas Wenski was installed as the fourth Archbishop of Miami. Archbishop Wenski, the first native to serve as the Ordinary, celebrated a Mass of Welcome at Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church on June 8, 2010.