Our history begins in the prosperous time immediately following World War II. This time saw an enormous population growth in the southernmost area of Philadelphia. At this time, the southernmost areas of the city from the Naval Base eastward were part of Epiphany of Our Lord Parish. However, Epiphany could not handle all of the new residents. All of its parishioners could not attend Mass, and its school could accomodate only half of the school-age children in the neighborhood. The Archbishop at the time, John F. O'Hara, recognized the need for a new parish in 1952. He personally selected the southeast corner of 10th and Bigler Sts. as the site. After two years of negotiations, the Archdiocese purchased the 2.6 acre site.
At the same time, the late Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, decreed that the time period between December 8, 1953 and December 8, 1954 would be known as the Marian Year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854. As part of this observance, Archbishop O'Hara set a policy that all new parishes founded in the Marian Year would be named with a title of the Blessed Mother. The new parish was founded on February 11, 1954. Archbishop O'Hara selected the title "Stella Maris", which means "Star of the Sea" in Latin. This title was selected because the new parish contained the U.S. Naval base in its boundaries and was bounded by the Delaware River on one side.
Archbishop O'Hara appointed Father (later Monsignor) McLaughlin, then stationed as Assistant Pastor at St. Edmond Parish, as our founding Pastor. He served from February 11, 1954 until his death on March 15,1985.
Cardinal Archbishop John Krol appointed Msgr. Connelly, then teaching at St. Charles Seminary and assisting at Epiphany of Our Lord Parish, as our second pastor. Msgr. Connelly served until his retirement on June 15, 2008.
Msgr. Edward J. McLaughlin
Founding Pastor 1954-1985
Msgr. James F. Connelly
Rev. Peter J. DiMaria
Fr. DiMaria joined us in 2007 as an assistant pastor. He was appointed our third pastor by Cardinal Archbishop Justin Regali on June 16, 2008. Fr. DiMaria served until his transfer on June 20, 2010.
Rev. John DiOrio
Fr. DiOrio was appointed our fourth pastor on June 21, 2010 by Cardinal Rigali.