TAMPA, Fla. — The staff of Sacred Heart Parish gathered in the friary last month to celebrate Linda Waggoner’s contributions to the parish and to the Franciscan spirit of her ministry. On July 11, we gave her the HNP Francis Medal in honor of all she has done.
Over the years, Waggoner has been very active in the Catholic community of Tampa and the Diocese of St. Petersburg. She has served in parishes, Catholic high schools and as an advisor to the bishop. Her generosity in sharing her many gifts is well known. She had stepped back from active ministry to support her family in the many wonderful things occurring in their lives, as her children have graduated from college, married and started careers.
Waggoner has been a parishioner here at Sacred Heart throughout the friars’ care of the parish, which began 10 years ago. But three years ago, she was called again to a ministry near and dear to her heart — children and youth faith formation.
As the parish grew and attracted younger folks, it became clear we were not prepared for the wave of children who would be participating in our programs. It was a marvel to see the impact Waggoner has had on the program, the families and the parish.
The overall program has increased 160 percent in the Sunday programs alone. In addition, Waggoner built the team and the enthusiasm that added Sunday morning family programs, new sacramental prep programs, Sunday children’s Masses, Children’s Liturgy of the Word (CLOW), extra special CLOW for autistic children, Wee Worship for three- to five-year-olds, and a middle school youth group. The growth has been spectacular and the program quality is amazing.
Along the way, Waggoner has demonstrated and imbued the programs with Franciscan qualities of service, fraternity and compassion. When praised for her achievements, Waggoner often deflects the praise to her team and, echoing St. Francis, remarks, “up until now, we have done little, so let us begin again.” She will be sorely missed.
Waggoner is not retired. She has taken on the active role of “grand-nannie,” providing childcare for her first grandchild as she ushers another generation of family to a life of selfless service.
— Fr. George is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa.
Editor’s note: The Holy Name Province Francis Medal was established in 1998 by then-Provincial Minister John Felice, OFM. Recipients are people who have displayed an uncommon contribution to the advancement of the ideals and values of St. Francis. Earlier this year, the medal was presented by Francis Di Spigno, OFM, Kevin Kriso, OFM, and Daniel Riley, OFM, to St. Bonaventure University’s former director of the Franciscan Center for Social Concern.
- “George Corrigan Installed as Pastor of Tampa Parish” – Oct. 12, 2011, HNP Today
- “Parish as Home: A Reflection by Gail Lewis of Tampa” — Nov. 20, 2013, HNP Today
- “Tampa Parish Celebrates 150th Anniversary with Community” — Oct. 13, 2010, HNP Today