St. Augustine Parish History
In 1947 when Father Cornelius Harrington was appointed pastor of St. Mary's Church in Coupeville, a profound change in parish life was to take place under his tutelage. He served until 1952. After the U.S. Navy established an air base outside of Oak Harbor in 1942, the north Whidbey area grew by leaps and bounds and the small church was bursting at the seams! Father Harrington purchased an Army building from Fort Ebey and had it moved to the Jackson property in Oak Harbor. On April 8, 1951, the new church was dedicated to St. Augustine and was elevated to a canonical parish by the Most Rev. Thomas Connelly, Archbishop of Seattle. Descendants of the original Island Catholics instructed by Chief Tslalakum, attended the ceremonies.
In January 1952, Father Anthony Palmasani arrived. He administered to the needs of St. Augustine, St. Mary, and St. Hubert's. Father William F. Dell arrived in November 1957. The rapid growth of the Oak Harbor area had created such a crowded condition in the small church by this time that it soon became necessary to have three Masses every Sunday. Continued growth soon caused all three Masses to overflow and it became apparent that a larger church was necessary. Sufficient funds had been gathered by 1959 for the purchase of six acres of land that would become the new home of St. Augustine Parish. In 1960 the plans for the new church were approved by Most Rev. Archbishop Connolly and work began in January 1961. The dedication of the new church was held on October 15, 1961.