HILTON HEAD — St. Francis by the Sea Church continued its year-long celebration of its 25th anniversary with a special Mass held Oct. 4.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated the liturgy on the feast day of the parish’s patron saint.
Jack Wilfore, a parishioner, said 900 people attended the 25th anniversary Mass and 200 of those were original members.
“One of the founding members, Mildred MacGeachie, was greeted after Mass by the bishop,” he wrote in an e-mail. “He gave her his blessing and also wished her well as she celebrated her 97th birthday on the feast of St. Francis. She said this event was one of the highlights of her life.”
St. Francis Church was founded by Father Joseph Majewski. A group of less than 100 people gathered weekly for Mass in 1984 at the Crazy Crab Restaurant.
Father Majewski brought the sacramentals to the restaurant in a suitcase and set up an altar on a table. After Mass, people would gather for fellowship which included a cup of coffee on the restaurant’s deck overlooking Jarvis Creek.
By 1988, the parish had outgrown the restaurant and Mass was held at Hilton Head Primary School until the Diocese of Charleston approved the purchase of land on Beach City Road.
The first Mass was held in the parish’s new church on March 3, 1991, with approximately 900 people.
Currently, St. Francis has nearly 2,000 families and includes an elementary school.