About St. Brendan Parish

The communities of Stone Harbor and Avalon have had a very strong Roman Catholic presence on 7 Mile Island for many generations.

Saint Paul’s Parish in Stone Harbor was formed in 1911; Sacred Heart Mission was formed from Saint Paul's on July 1, 1928, the date the church on 25th Street and First Avenue was dedicated. The present Saint Paul's Church was built in 1953 by Monsignor Michael Dalton, Pastor and Reverend John Flanagan, Administrator.

In 1959 Sacred Heart Hall (now Tierney) was first used for Masses in Avalon because Sacred Heart Church could not handle the increasing crowds. In 1961 Archbishop Damiano established the Maris Stella Parish in Avalon formerly Sacred Heart Mission. A church was built in Avalon in 1983 by Bishop James Schad. Quinn Hall was built in Stone Harbor in 2006 and the Hall in Avalon was renamed Tierney Hall in 2010.

As a result of decreasing numbers of active priests, Saint Paul and Maris Stella parishes were merged into Saint Brendan the Navigator Parish in 2010. Monsignor John Frey was the founding Pastor. Father Mark Cavagnaro was appointed Pastor in July 2016. Father William Kelly arrived July 15, 2020 as Pastor, replacing Father Mark who retired.

We are one parish with three worship sites! There are around 700 families in the parish year round with an increase to 1,000 families in the summer. With the assistance of many retired priests in the area, the parish offers 7 Masses in the off-season with an average attendance of 1150 people at the weekend Masses. There is an increase to 11 Masses in the summer season with an attendance of 10,000 people.

Saint Paul School, Stone Harbor 1957-1969

Saint Paul’s Church had bought a rooming house. It was converted into Saint Paul School in 1957. The school stood at the corner of 100thStreet and 3rdAvenue. The old Saint Paul Church that had been moved in 1953 to 100thStreet was converted into a social hall and dining room for the school.

Sisters from Villa Maria staffed the school with three or four sisters. Among the first, in 1969, were Sr. John Maureen and Sr. Mater Christi. Sr. Mater Christi initiated the music effort at the school: Glee Club, School Play and May Procession. Space was set aside in the school for a music room. 

“Miss Marie” Ascolese for one year and Mrs. Mary Maher were lay faculty. 

There were four classrooms, so grades were combined. The principal was also the 7thand 8thgrade teacher. The school building was so close to St Paul’s rectory that a second floor passageway connected the two buildings. Father Knabb, the founder of the school, would often cross over the passage, smoking a cigar. Everyone with a sense of smell knew that he was around. 

Enrollment at the school was as high as 122. The building was deteriorating and, by 1969, began to lean. Students transferred to Saint Joseph’s School in Sea Isle City in September 1969. 

I hope you have corrections and additional information. Please send to Fr Jim Betz 609 830 5024 or betz.jim33@gmail.com