History of Our Lady of the Gulf
In 1847, Fr. Louis
Stanislaus Buteux received the deed for the property where the
current church and rectory stand.
In 1854, Fr. Buteux
established two schools for the youth of the parish. A boys school,
St. Stanislaus College, under the administration of the Brothers of
the Sacred Heart. The girls school, St. Joseph's Academy, was
staffed by the sisters of St. Joseph.
In 1907, the original
structure of Our Lady of the Gulf Church, rectory, school and
convent of the St. Joseph nuns, were completely destroyed by fire.
But, by God's grace, in 1908, the cornerstone was laid for the new
church that still exists today. In that year, St. Joseph's Academy
moved into larger buildings, replacing those destroyed in the
Our Lady of the Gulf has
indeed been the mother church of all the Catholic Churches that have
been established in Hancock County, Mississippi. By 1926, Our Lady
of the Gulf was one of the most beautiful churches in the area. The
high altar is particularly impressive, built of Italian
Carrerra marble. Over the high altar is a dome with a large painting
of Mary as Our Lady of the Gulf to whom the church is dedicated..
The background is a restful shade of blue and she is robed in a
deeper shade of blue and holds in her arms the Christ Child. Angels
surround and hover over the pair. In the foreground, sailing ships,
like those that first approached these shores in the seventeenth
century, ply the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The
exquisite stained glass windows, done by Mayer and Company in
Munich, Germany, were intended for meditation and for lifting one's
In 1967, St. Joseph's
Academy , after 112 years of Catholic education in the community,
closed. But, in 1971, Mons. Gregory Johnson still saw a need in the
parish for a girls Catholic high school and Our Lady Academy was
established. In that same year, the present rectory was built,
replacing the wooden structure, severely damaged by Hurricane
Camille in August 1969.
Nowhere is the
universality of Catholicism more evident than in the diverse
nationalities of the wonderful pastors and associates who have
served Our Lady of the Gulf throughout these 154 years.
Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church, Bay St.