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St Mary:  Star of the Sea Catholic Church

75 Years of Service to Our Community


In celebration our parish's 75th anniversary in August 2001, a group of parishioners has done research to understand our past.  St. Mary's is the mother church of now existing parishes of St. Henry's, St. Joseph's of Brazoria, St. Michael's of Lake Jackson, and St. Jerome's of Clute.

The Brazosport area missions date back to 1848.  The first Catholic Church was erected in 1892.  Through the generosity of a Catholic laywoman named Mrs. Angle, St. Agnes was erected in Velasco.  It was demolished in the storm of September 8, 1900.  The church was rebuilt again only to be demolished in a similar manner in July 1909.  In May 1911, a new church was built under the direction of Father George A. Montreuil.  Sulfur was discovered on the west side of the Brazos River.  In 1912 the city of Freeport was born due to the gradual influx of families to Freeport after the opening of the sulfur mines.  Many of the families that moved into Freeport during this time were Catholic.  In 1926, St. Mary: Star of the Sea Catholic Church was established by Bishop Christopher E. Byrne.  The Hunt Lumber Company built the white, frame church with a high peaked roof, brace to withstand the elements of the Gulf of Mexico.  That same year St. Agnes Church was razed and from the salvaged lumber, a parish hall was erected adjacent to the new church at 410 Broad Street.  Bishop Byrne appointed Father L.A. Sampson as resident pastor for the 75 families in the parish.  The demographics of the parish at that time indicate that 80% of the families were of German descent, the other 20% of the families were of American, French, Bohemian, and Mexican decent.

Two years later, Father George Elmendorf succeeded Father Samson.  He attended to the surrounding missions, an area of over 50 miles.  Over this area 800 Catholics were scattered.  Many of them only spoke their native language.  Father Elmendorf had to brush up in the languages in order to hear confessions and administer the other sacraments properly.  When he arrived in Freeport, the little frame church needed much repair.  The lot in which it stood, almost always had a foot of water around it.

During World War II, Father Joseph Coffey served as military chaplain for the Freeport-Velasco-Angleton-Alvin District.  St. Mary's church served as a post chapel, and other parish facilities were given over to the servicemen in the Brazoria County area.

Our present church and rectory was built in 1949 under the direction of Father Thomas J. Prendergast at that time the parish plant was moved to Velasco Boulevard.  The old church and rectory was turned into a convent and school.  The present church is designed in the Spanish Mission style.  In 1947, the Sisters of Loretto arrived in Freeport to staff the parish elementary school until their departure in 1965 when the school was closed.

The church again was damaged by a hurricane in September of 1961 when Hurricane Carla damaged much of Freeport.  The restoration work was done while Father George Beck was the pastor of the parish.  Father John C. DeForke was the pastor when our present parish hall and education were erected. Today our parish population totals approximately 525 families with many ethnic groups represented including French, Irish, German Czech, and Mexican American.

Past Priest:  L.A. Sampson, George Elemendorf, John Geiser, Joseph Coffey, Thomas Prendergast, George Beck, Robert Gradel, Francis Wearden, John DeForke, Clifford Natho, Pat Meister, Drew Wood, Jesse Linam, Jr., Bill Bosworth, and Reginald Petrash.

Vocations from St. Mary: Star of the Sea have been:  Robert Barras, Robert Carlson, Leo Wleczyk, Francis Weber, C. J. Arnold, and Rosa Crossman.