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About K of C
 

A HISTORY OF OUR LADY OF THE GULF CHURCH & THE PHILIP A. LAMBERT KofC COUNCIL

In 1948, Father Philip A. Lambert convinced Bishop T. J. Toolen to let him celebrate Sunday Mass with the few Catholics in Gulf Shores at that time. We began as a mission from St. Matthew’s Parish in Elsanor. Mass was celebrated in Romeo’s restaurant and confession were heard before Mass in Father’s car. In 1952, Our Lady of the Gulf was established. Land was donated by pioneer realtor George C. Meyer. With a Sears catalog and Alex Lenniex, a Robertsdale contractor, Father Lambert built the original church for only $19,000.

In 1971, Monsignor Lambert retired and Monsignor George Royer became the new pastor. Northern guests started to spend the winters in Gulf Shores. Monsignor Royer retired in 1977, succeeded by Monsignor Joseph Adams. Sept. 12, 1979, Hurricane Frederick (The Great) devastated Gulf Shores, but the church was unharmed. Monsignor Adams died in January 1981 and was succeeded by Father Finbar “Barry” Desmond who started a building fund for a larger sanctuary. Our Lady of the Gulf was growing!

Father Desmond, recognizing the need for further Catholic education of children in the Parish had a new C.C.D. building built before retiring Oct. 25, 1985. Father Anthony Zoghby became the new Pastor in November 1985. The current church was dedicated January 28, 1989. Due to the generosity of our parish family, Lee and Nancy Bruno, and our seasonal parishioners, our church debt of $1,500,000 was paid in full by the time Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb came for the dedication. The old church building was renovated into our parish hall and named in memory of Fr. Philip A. Lambert, our first Pastor. While here in Gulf Shores, Fr. Zoghby found time to co-found the South Baldwin Community Theater.

In 1990, Father O’Neil joined us. Due to the rectory being small at that time, Father O’Neil roomed in the building at the far north east corner of the church property (AKA: “The Out House”).

In 1991-1993, a number of Knights from the Fairhope Council were involved in establishing our council in Gulf Shores: Bud Smith, Deputy Grand Knight, council founder in Fairhope and District Deputy for a number of years through 1991; Robert Nelson, Grand Knight in Fairhope, and Prentiss H. Baughman of the Fairhope Council. June 15, 1992, the new District Deputy, Prentiss Baughman who died July 11, 2004, submitted an “Application For Charter” to Supreme to start the Council in Gulf Shores. Forty two candidates and existing Knights applied for the charter, and on that date 23 candidates received their First Degree, many of whom Brother Baughman had signed up. Many new Brother Knights then received their Second and Third Degree Exemplifications August 30, 1992. Our new Council was named “Philip A. Lambert Council” in honor of our first Pastor at Our Lady of the Gulf. Brother Knights Bud Smith and Robert Nelson attended meetings of the fledgling council monthly for about the first year to give us strong support.

The parishioners wanted Fr. Zoghby and Fr. O’Neil to live together in comfort with all the modern conveniences, so plans were started for a new residence; however Fr. Zoghby died June 18, 1994. Fr. Patrick O’Connor was asked to hold off retirement and take the position of Pastor, arriving in July 1994. Fr. O’Connor had the enormous task of seeing to the completion of the new residence, which was already under construction with a $350,000 debt. The residence was ready in January 1997 and the debt was paid off by April 20, 1998.

During the 1990’s, the Council had a baseball team. (If you have more information on this, please send us an e-mail!)

The “Hire” building which was torn down to make way for the Priest’s residence had housed the children’s Religious Education programs. Under Fr. O’Connor the property on the south east corner of Hwy 180 and 23rd Ave. was purchased, the building thereon was remodeled as a center for the Religious Education programs starting in March 1998 and completed in October, 1998 at a cost of $150,000.

For several years, our Council planned and conducted a huge annual “yard sale” which netted the Council over $10,000 in the first year and as much as $30,000 by the last year. Many items were donated by citizens and even furniture was donated by the real estate companies who were renovating condos.

An annual BBQ fundraiser was started in 2000 and since 2003 has been named for Brother John McCormack, who had held a number of offices in our Council and who was our first Financial Secretary.

Fr. O’Connor died suddenly Nov. 28, 2000, found at peace in his chair, shocking parishioners. Associate Pastor Fr. O’Neil needed assisted living until passing away March 1, 2005.

Msgr. Robert Fulton, came to us in early 2001. It was under his guidance and sound financial management that we were able to replace the old Lambert Hall and office buildings with a new, modern hall and parish office. A photo history of the construction of the new hall is here. Fr. Fulton passed away on August 18, 2013.

Our current pastor, Father David Carucci, joined us in 2013.

 

Our thanks to the parish office manager, Vivian Castano, for her help with this history. Much of the information was condensed from the last Church Directory and from KofC records held by the Council Financial Secretary.

Lyle L. Brown, Financial Secretary 3-23-2006