St. Michael's on Tybee Island Celebrates it's 120 year as a parish beginning on July 5th

St. Michael's Church is celebrating its 120th Anniversary Year beginning July 5, 2011.  The Church Bell is being rung on that date at 11 o'clock am. followed by a Holy Hour. The date and time remembers the FIRST MASS offered at St. Michael's that day and time in 1891 by Bishop Thomas Becker.

from The Morning News:  Monday, July 6, 1891

St. Michael’s by the Sea

Tybee’s new Roman Catholic Church Dedicated     

Bishop Becker Performs the Dedicatory Ceremonies and Lays Down to the Congregation the Beliefs of the Catholic Church – The Edifice Named After St. Michael the Archangel, the Ruler of the Waves – Incidents of the Dedication.

Tybee’s Roman Catholic Chapel was dedicated yesterday morning by Bishop Becker, assisted by Vicar General Cafferty and Rev. W. A. McCarthy.  Bishop Becker named the chapel after St. Michael the Archangel, who is known as the ruler of the waves.  The name is peculiarly appropriate on account of the chapel being at the seaside. 

The 9:30 o’clock train carried down about 200 people to attend the services, and they, together with Tybee’s residents, filled the little church to overflowing.  There are twenty-four pews, with a seating capacity of about 275.  Every one was taxed to its utmost capacity, people occupied chairs in the aisles and every foot of standing room around the door was taken up and many stood outside under the trees.  Over 400 people were crowded into the building. 

At 11 o’clock Bishop Becker and Fathers Cafferty and McCarthy, attired in their handsome vestments, came out of the sacristy and marched down the aisle to the entrance, where the bishop sprinkled holy water and blessed the chapel with appropriate prayers.  On the return to the altar the congregation was sprinkled with holy water. 

After the recitation of the litany of the saints and psalms, mass was celebrated.  The choir consisted of Mrs. Altick, Frank E. Rebarer and M.A. O’Byrne.  Prof. Leo Mehrtens presided at the organ.  The singing was excellent.


Bishop Becker preached a sermon from the text “By their fruits ye shall know them.”  The Catholic church, he said, is known by its fruits.  It is today the same church it was when it was founded by Jesus Christ, when he commanded his apostles to go forth and teach all nations.  It never vacillates and always teaches the same truths.  While other churches are wrangling about doctrines and questioning the scriptures, which they never would have had but for the preserving art of the Church Catholic it stands firm in its faith and doctrines.  It is not a church of opinions but of faith.  With the right hand is taught what people must believe, and with the left hand what they must do.  The same religion is taught to all, form the lowest child to him who represents St. Peter on earth. 


The Catholic church, continued Bishop Beck never changes its principles even to save a nation.  It has watched the rise and fall of dynasties, and stood by to sing their requiem and say “May they rest in peace.”  Governments are only temporary, but the Catholic church is eternal.  Even republics are not perpetual.  The wrecks of many magnificent republics lie strewn along the turnpike of time while the Catholic church goes majestically on to its destiny. 

While on one hand men are questioning the revelations and doubting the creed from “I believe in God, the Father Almighty,” to “life everlasting,” causing discord, ill-will and hatred, the Catholic church goes serenely on teaching the same doctrines she has always taught and always will teach.

Bishop Becker closed by thanking all who contributed to or aided in the erection of St. Michael’s particularly the young men of the Atlantic club, who have taken a lively interest in the matter. 


St. Michael’s is situated on Railroad avenue and Eighth street, just across form the Atlantic Club.  The exterior is painted white, with black trimmings.  The roof is surmounted by a white and black dome, on the top of which stands a large white cross.  The interior walls are painted white and the ceiling a sky blue, the combination making a pretty effect.  The pews are of polished Georgia pine.  The altar is a beautiful and artistic piece of work  It is carved in an attractive manner and in the center is a lamb bearing a cross.  The altar was made at McDonough & Co.’s mill.  On each side of the altar is a room.  One is used as a sacristy and the other as a sleeping apartment for the priest, who will go to the island every Saturday night. 


St. Michael’s cost about $2,000.  The land upon which the church stands was donated by the Tybee Beach Company, at the instance of Capt. D. G. Purse.  The erection of the church is mainly due to the efforts of Mr. Robert E. Pepper, president of the Atlantic Club.  He interested others in the movement, and soon had the scheme in proper working order.  From the commencement of work until the completion and dedication of ST. Michael’s, Mr. Pepper has devoted much of his time to looking after details.

St. Michael’s has the honor of being the pioneer house of religious worship on Tybee.  The island has quite a contingent of Catholic residents, and the chapel will be amply supported.  Some time ago there was talk of the erection of a union Protestant chapel at Tybee; but as yet the matter has not taken any definite shape.  It is understood that the Beach Company will donate a lot for this purpose, as they did for St. Michael’s.

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