100 Years and Counting
Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish has a rich history that dates back to the beginning of settlement in the Kitsap region.
The earliest settlers of the area celebrated Mass in their homes with missionary priests from the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Seattle. With the development of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in 1890’s the population exploded, and soon it became evident that Bremerton needed a parish of its own. We have outgrown two earlier churches and are now housed in the current church built in the early 1950’s.
Because of our growing population, parish families decided there was a need for a parochial school. After many years of planning, in 1926 Our Lady Star of the Sea School opened its doors with the arrival of three sisters from St. Dominic Convent in Everett. Through the years the school has undergone renovations and new construction. The current school is housed in a state of the art building that was completed 1997.
Church and School buildings are wonderful, but it is the people who make Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish dynamic, unique and growing. We are a stable community; about 1500 families strong. We are essentially “Blue Collar” people primarily employed by the U.S, Government at the Naval Shipyard and related activities. We have a broad age diversity and a significant Pacific Islander population (Filipino and Chomorro). We are traditional and hard working with a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Mother of God. We have a strong commitment to Catholic Education and Faith Formation and a sensitivity to adherence to the Magisterium. We are very appreciative of a prayerful liturgy. We also have a number of small educational and devotional group activities.
Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish continues to grow along with the Kitsap Peninsula.
A Brief History
Our Lady Star of the Sea began with the earliest settlers celebrating Mass in their homes with missionary priests from Immaculate Conception Church in Seattle. With the development of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in the 1890’s, the population exploded, and it became apparent that Bremerton needed its own parish. In 1901, the first church was built at the corner of Fifth and Washington. Bishop Edward J. O’Dea blessed the church and welcomed the new parish.
In 1921, a combined church and school was built on the corner of Sixth and Veneta. The church occupied the upper level of the school. Three sisters from St. Dominic’s Convent in Edmonds arrived in 1926 to teach, and the parish built a convent for the sisters adjacent to the school. The three story house on the corner of Fourth and Veneta was purchased and became the Parish Rectory. The former convent is now the parish office, and the school was replaced by the existing school building in 1996-97.
During World War II, the population of Bremerton boomed, and the 1500 parish families crowded into the upper level. It was apparent that building a bigger church could no longer be delayed. The current church on Fifth and Veneta was finished in 1953.
During the late 1970’s, a multi purpose facility was planned. The building housed the gymnasium, religious education offices, library and meeting rooms. In 1992, the school was deemed structurally unsound, so the school moved into the multipurpose facility for the next five years. The religious education offices and library moved to the rectory.
In 1994, the last nun moved from the convent, and the building was adapted to use as the parish and religious education offices.
The parish raised $2.8 million to build a new 24,000 square foot school. The school houses spacious classrooms, administrative areas and community meeting rooms. In June 1997, Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy came to dedicate the first new school to be built in the Archdiocese of Seattle in thirty two years. The first school year was 1997-98. The multi-purpose building (now called the Parish Center) was renewed and returned to its original purpose.
In 2004, Camerman Hall (located beneath the church), was completely remodeled and the kitchen enhanced. In 2007 the Church’s stained glass windows were repaired and cleaned and the western quarter of the tile roof was repaired due to leakage. The last major change to the church occurred in 2008, when the interior underwent a major restoration, returning it to its original Romanesque design. The sanctuary and vestibule were expanded, stained glass windows separating the vestibule from the main body of the church were installed, and the sound system was updated.