Parish Mission Statement
Living the Good News by committing to being Christ to others, through worship, Sacraments
and service in the Spirit of the Kingdom.
January 10, 1909
Founding pastor Fr. Joseph C. Mesny celebrated the first Mass in the newly completed church located at the intersection of Kline Street and Girard Avenue in La Jolla, California. The new church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin under her title of Mary, Star of the Sea. At the time, San Diego was part of the former Los Angeles-San Diego Diocese. Fr. Mesny remained pastor of the parish until June, 1927.
Under the leadership of pastor Fr. Thomas J. McNamara, fund-raising efforts begun by his predecessors were stepped up, and plans to construct a new church were approved by the first bishop of the newly formed Diocese of San Diego, Bishop Charles Frances Buddy. The new building was designed by famed architect Carleton Monroe Winslow in the spirit of the early California missions. The new church was dedicated in December of 1937.
Fr. McNamara remained pastor until May, 1939.
1942 - 1947
Fr. Joseph V. Clarkin was appointed pastor in 1939. Again with Bishop Buddy’s approval, a badly needed new rectory was constructed and dedicated in the spring of 1942.
Called a visionary in his time, Fr. Clarkin began to purchase land and the plans for a school, a convent, and a playground began to take form. On Thanksgiving day in 1947 Stella Maris Academy and the convent for the school’s teaching Sisters of the Holy Cross were dedicated. The school building had four classrooms, a music room, and a Principal’s office, and accommodated over 200 students. The school was expanded in 1955.
With ever expanding parish activities taking place, ground was broken on St. Patrick’s Day in 1952 on The Aula, what we now call our Parish Hall. The Aula housed a library, music rooms, and an auditorium. A mission bell with the inscription “Jesus 1690 Maria” hangs at the top. The bell was brought to La Jolla by original pastor Fr. Mesny and is believed to have been brought to California from Spain by the early Franciscan padres.
The unique fresco over the entrance to the church, entitled “Our Lady, Star of the Sea,” was painted by artist Alfredo Ramos Martinez. Years of exposure to sun and salt air cause irreparable damage to the fresco that could not be restored. In 1962 an exact replica in mosaic tile was fabricated in Rome. In the lower right corner of the mural reads:
“This mosaic replaces the original fresco by Alfredo Ramos Martinez painted in 1937.
—Msgr. J.V. Clarkin, VF Pastor 1962.”
In 1956, a large mural to fill the arched space on the back wall of the sanctuary was commissioned by distinguished artist John Henry de Rosen. De Rosen has decorated many churches throughout the world, including the Pope’s private chapel at the Castel Gandolfo. The mural was restored in 1992 by Andrew Lojszczyk who applied a new coat of gold leaf to the background.
John de Rosen was invited back the following year in 1957 to execute a smaller painting as the background for the statue of Mary with the Infant Jesus located on a side altar. The statue was created by the noted French sculptor Roger de Villers in 1937. Mr. Rosen returned a third time to Mary, Star of the Sea to do a small background painting for our St. Joseph statue. The artist donated this painting to the parish as a memorial to his deceased parents. In the lower corner it reads “In memoriam–Jan and Wanda De Rosen +1936.”