Friars Mark Three Years at Tampa Parish

HNP Communications Features

TAMPA, Fla. — July 15, the celebration of the feast of St. Bonaventure, also marks the third anniversary of the Province’s young ministry at Sacred Heart Church here.

“The future of the parish is very promising and very challenging,” said Andrew Reitz, OFM, pastor, who began his work at the church in July 2005. “These three years have gone quickly.”

Since 2005, the church has established several new ministries, reached out to the community, and even sent one novice, Jeffery Jordan, OFM, to the Province.

The Work of Six Friars

At the Province’s Congressus of the 2005 Chapter, four friars were assigned to begin a ministry at the former Jesuit parish. Andrew and Barry Langley, OFM, arrived in July. Sean O’Brien, OFM, and Roch Coogan, OFM, came in early August. George Corrigan, OFM, and Juan Turcios, OFM, joined them in 2007, replacing Roch and Barry.

Since the arrival of the friars, many new ministries have been established, said Andrew, including those for young single adults, the homeless, and to students at the University of Tampa. The church has also enhanced stewardship and started Small Faith Communities.

Other programs are also growing, including adult Bible study, RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), liturgical and hospital ministries, Sacred Heart Academy, and outreach to the homebound. Weekend attendance at all Masses is up.

A Rebirth of Downtown Tampa

The church’s central location makes it very accessible, and the rebirth of downtown Tampa adds to the community’s appeal.“We are situated in downtown Tampa where the city is beginning to experience a renaissance with a new Children’s Museum and Art Museum being constructed and more people moving into the downtown area,” said Andrew. Next year, the city hosts the Super Bowl.

“We are looking forward to a year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the parish in 2010. Next year, the inside of our 103-year-old church will be renovated and repainted.”

The outside of the church, with its 100-year-old stained glass windows, has already been redone.

In photo above are from left, George Corrigan, OFM, Sean O’Brien, OFM, Andrew Reitz, OFM, and Juan Turcios, OFM,  on the steps of Sacred Heart Church.