Our Lady of the Assumption

History of THE cHURCH ON THE beACH

Looking back to the first Christian settlement…

The history of Catholic Masses celebrated on Pensacola Beach dates back to over 450 years. It was discovered that the first Mass of the first Christian settlement in the new world was celebrated on our island on Assumption Feast Day in 1559. A white cross stands on a dune off Ft. Pickens Road to commemorate this first Mass. It wasn’t until 1979, however, that the establishment of a mission church got underway.

Like shifting grains of sand…

The first of many Masses of the Mission was celebrated on June 17, 1979, at the Holiday Inn on Ft. Pickens Road. Despite hurricanes and other obstacles which followed, services continued to be held here and at other motels and lounges until finally a lease was obtained for the building of a structure to celebrate Mass on an ongoing basis. 

Taking root as a sand dune…

Ground was finally broken for the building of Our Lady’s Multi-celebration Center in June of 1989. A little over a year later, on August 15, 1990, on the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Assumption, the newly completed building was dedicated. With a small cadre of about 75 permanent island resident families, we continued to grow and prosper as a mission church serving our parishioners and thousand of beach visitors, vacationers and “snow birds” who seasonally worshipped with our mission community.

We’re Survivors…

Both our mission church on Via de Luna and the commemorative cross on the dune off Ft. Pickens Road survived the 1995 Hurricanes Erin and the devastating Opal. Reaching out to our island neighbors, with Diocesan support and that of St. Ann’s in Gulf Breeze, OUR LADY turned into a Hurricane Relief Center offering whatever assistance was needed; clothes, hot meals, financial aid and a shoulder to lean on. As the beach residents rebuilt, we too, had a vision for the future. After several years of planning, construction of our permanent church became a reality. Bishop John H. Ricard, S.S.J., Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, dedicated our sanctuary on Our Lady’s Feast Day, August 15, 1999.

Another big blow…

The years 2004 and 2005 brought destructive Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis, which took the roof off the church and severely damaged Hunt Hall, closing both for nearly two years. After reconstruction was complete, Our Lady once again resumed mass on Mothers Day, 2006. Many parishioners had to relocate to other areas after losing their homes and/or jobs to the hurricanes.

Building a Faith Community…

We were pleased to open our hall to many service organizations, clubs and religious groups that had nowhere else to gather. As the years pass, rebuilding the beach and the beach community has been slow but steady. Happily, people are once again enjoying Pensacola Beach and our faith community is expanding. You’re welcome to join us.