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About Our Parish


History of St. Andrew by the Sea Catholic Church

St. Andrew by the Sea Catholic Church was established as a Mission of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Flour Bluff, in 1967. 

St. Andrew by the Sea Catholic Church was originally conceived by Bishop Drury as an “outdoor pavilion” where Padre Island visitors could celebrate their Sunday worship dressed informally and near their vacation site, rather than “dressing up” and driving several miles to the nearest church.  St. Andrew is located on North Padre Island, approximately 30 miles from downtown Corpus Christi.  St. Andrew by the Sea is the only open-air parish in the world where Mass is celebrated year round

Envisioned by Bishop Drury as completely open-air, the church was designed by Arlin Yeager, Jr. with Blanton-Yeager Architects, in Corpus Christi.  St. Andrew’s style might be described as Contemporary Greek Classical; such architectural details as the flat roof, pillars, and tooth-shaped details (guttae) along the cornice are references to ancient Greek temples and open-buildings that dotted the Mediterranean shoreline over two thousand years ago.  The church seats 500 people on fixed pre cast concrete pews; the altar and celebrant’s chair are also built of concrete. 

Bishop Thomas J. Drury celebrated the first Mass at 7:00 AM on Easter Sunday, 1973.  Bishop Drury dedicated St. Andrew by the Sea at the noon Mass on July 29, 1973. 

Originally, St. Andrew by the Sea had no resident pastor or office, although a small 500-sq ft. rectory was integrated into the original design.  At the time of 1973 dedication, Msgr. Robert E. Freeman, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle, and his associate pastor, Fr. Vincent Patrizzi, celebrated all Masses for St. Andrew Mission.  Fr. Patrizzi oversaw the spiritual needs for St. Andrew from 1975-1983, while serving as pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea.  In August of 1983, St. Andrew Mission was again returned to St. Paul the Apostle and was administered by Fr. Mark Chamberlain. 

St. Andrew by the Sea became an Independent Mission on October 4, 1986.  On October 6, 1986 Fr. James Tamayo became the parish’s first pastor.  St. Andrew by the Sea became a canonically established parish on October 17, 1987.  In January of 1990 Msgr. James Tamayo was reassigned as Episcopal Vicar in Western Vicariate of Laredo, Texas.  Fr. Thomas Goodwin was appointed pastor in 1990 and served the parish until 1993.  In April of 1993 Fr. Richard W. Filice was appointed pastor and served the parish until 2002.  Our pastor, Fr. Tom McGettrick was appointed pastor of St. Andrew by the Sea on July 1, 2002 and served until his retirement in July of 2013.  The present pastor is a native diocesan – Fr. Michael Howell who has served in the Diocese for 40 years.

St. Andrew by the Sea has grown considerably since its establishment in 1973, when it was originally only open on a “seasonal” basis.  In 1999 under the administration of

Fr. Filice, St. Andrew’s parish built a 7,500 sq. ft. Family Life Center to serve as an indoor gathering place to celebrate Mass during inclement weather and as a meeting place for Religious Education classes and social gatherings.  North Padre Island was once a quiet vacation destination and “retirement” community.  It is now a community thriving with families with children. To better serve those families; in 2006 under the administration of Fr. Tom McGettrick, St. Andrew’s parish built a 4,000 sq. ft. Religious Education Building with 6 classrooms and a large meeting area.

St. Andrew by the Sea has 350 registered families served by our pastor Fr. Michal Howell.  St. Andrew celebrates weekday Mass, a Saturday Vigil Mass and two Sunday Masses.  Additional Masses are scheduled for Holy Days of Obligation and at Christmas and Easter.  St. Andrew offers a comprehensive Religious Education Program for Pre-K3 through Adult Education.  There are several ministries, prayer groups, study groups and social organizations available for the parishioners to participate in.

Like a young child, the parish of St. Andrew’s began small and unsure of how the community might develop with the passage of time.  With time and the development of north Padre Island, the parish too has grown in numbers and in exploring new ways to witness to and promote the kingdom of God in this beautiful setting that proclaims the greatness of our Creator in this seashore setting.  What was initially a very small community of believers who gathered in homes and other local venues now boast an outside church which celebrates the beauties of creation on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  The church with no walls well symbolizes the desire of the parish family to open their hearts also to the many visitors that come to the island to find rest and renewal.  We seek to be a church without walls that would exclude others.  In a church with no walls, anyone can even come to spend time with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament during any of the 24 hours of the day and night.  To encourage fellowship and promote outreach to the larger community, there is also the new hall-church with offices as well as an education building with classrooms and a meeting room.  These facilities allow the parish family not only to care for the religious education of our adults and youth, but also to promote fellowship within the parish and to provide a second home to our winter Texans who seek a place of worship and friendship through such events as the K.C. Lenten Fish Fries, monthly donut Sundays, and gatherings of parishioners and guests after Funeral services to minister to those in grief.  These facilities also give the parish family the opportunity to support the larger community in housing regular meetings like the girl scouts and the Rotary Club’s Christmas party for the children of the island.  We seek by our worship and witness to be a welcoming presence on Padre Island where all are welcomed to join us in prayer and the celebration of the blessing we enjoy as a family where “no man is an island” and there are no walls to exclude anyone.




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