Our Lady of the Seas Catholic Parish is a faith community consisting of about 125 registered families. It is located in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a summer destination for hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, who swell the parish's numbers from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
This warm, welcoming parish is shepherded by Fr. Alfred "Fred" Smuda, OSFS. He is one of many priests, who have served the parish since it was first formed as a mission of the Outer Banks Catholic Parish in the 1930s.
In those days, pastors and other priests had to travel by helicopter, private plane, ferry, or boat in order to celebrate Mass on Hatteras Island. They did so once a month, alternating among the homes of the five Catholics who formed the nucleus of the mission.
When the Bonner Bridge was constructed across Oregon Inlet in 1963, driving to Hatteras Island was made possible, and Mass was celebrated weekly. Tourism and the resident population began to grow. So did the little Catholic mission and the need for a larger worship space. Services were moved to the U.S. Navy base (which became the U.S. Coast Guard base), and later to the Methodist Church in Buxton and in Hatteras Village.
In 1983, plans to build the congregation's own “home” began in earnest. Construction of the parish hall was completed 10 years later. That same year, Fr. André Izac retired from the Navy's Chaplain Corp, moved to the island where his sister was living, and was appointed Parochial Vicar of the mission. On Dec. 24, 1993, he celebrated the first Mass to be held in the congregation's new facility.
The first phase of the parish's long-range plan was now complete. The next phase was to build the rectory for future resident priests. That was finished a few years later, and the planning of the construction of a church building began.
On July 1, 2002, Our Lady of the Seas Catholic Mission was elevated to “parish” status by the Raleigh Diocese. Three years after that, under the guidance and leadership of Fr. André, the parish realized its decades-old dream and final phase of its long-range plan: the construction of a church building. The post-and-beam wood building was finished in early 2005 and dedicated on Sept. 12 of that year by The Most Reverend F. Joseph Gossman.
Fr. Andre retired the following year, and Fr. Robert Brown (with his boxer, Molly) took the pastoral reins. He served the parish from 2006 until the time of his death on Dec. 27, 2012. Visiting priests served the parish until Fr. Alfred "Fred" Smuda arrived in Feb. 2013. He was installed as pastor on Aug. 27 of that year.