Mary Star of the Sea Name History



The name, Mary Star of the Sea, has a two-part Grand Island history, first as a summer church in the first half of the 20th century, and then as a Knights of Columbus council in the second half of the 20th century and beyond.  This narrative will generally explain each part.


Due to a large number of summer residents, the trustees and Father Frank Meyer (Pastor, 1910-16) of St. Stephen’s Church were instrumental in building a summer church at the corner of Ferry and Orchard Roads.  Construction of the church began in 1911 and was completed in 1913.  This church, dedicated in July 1911 by Bishop Colton, was called "Mary Star of the Sea".  The first Mass was said on July 4, 1913.  The summer church remained the responsibility of the Pastors of St. Stephen’s Church after Father Meyer until 1948: Fathers Charles Kraehn (1916-28), Albert Hoffmeyer (1928-35), Alfred Hagemaier (Dec‘35-Jan‘36), William Martin (1936-43), Martin Marnon (1943-45), and Edward Schwegler (1945-67).


With the decline of summer visitors and increase of permanent residents and the enlargement of St. Stephen‘s Church in 1948 all Catholic services were moved to St. Stephen. Mary Star of the Sea Church building was sold to the Grand Island American Legion Post in November 1948.  In August 1960, the building was purchased by the Grand Island Masonic Lodge No. 1138 F&AM.  In 1997, the building was sold by the Masonic Lodge to private residents.


Besides the building still at Ferry and Orchard Roads, two memorabilia of the old church exist on the island, the church bell and the building cornerstone.  The church bell, composed of 78% copper and 22% tin, has the following raised lettering in two lines: MENEELY & CO., WEST TROY, NY, 1911, and “AVE, MARIS STELLA”.  On October 10, 1976, the Masonic Lodge presented the church bell to Grand Island’s Knights of Columbus Council No.4572.  Since 1976, the bell has been located in front of the Council’s building at 1841 Whitehaven Road. It is supported by vertical structural steel which rests on a concrete base, with ‘June 76” scratched on the base surface.  This 1976 Masonic Lodge presentation was included with the dedication of the Albert Schoenle Memorial, which is also located in front of the Council’s building.  It consists of an engraved metal plate attached to stone embedded in the ground near the bell; it has the following inscription in three lines: ALBERT//SCHOENLE//MEMORIAL. 


The cornerstone from the summer church has the following inscription in three lines: CHURCH OF MARY//STAR OF THE SEA//JULY 4TH 1911.  Several years before presenting the bell, the Masonic Lodge presented the cornerstone to the Knights of Columbus Council.  It was included as part of a shrine on the Council’s Whitehaven Road lawn in front of the building.  The Council donated the corner stone to St. Stephen Church in 2000 to be placed inside the new St. Stephen Church near the statue of Mary. It remains there today


The name, Mary Star of the Sea, remained dormant from the closure of the summer church and sale of the former church building in 1948 until the establishment of Knights of Columbus Council No. 4752 in 1959.  As a remembrance of the former summer church, and with the appropriate permission, the Council was named Mary Star of the Sea.


Brother Peter Kuszczak