Tampa Parish Celebrates 150th Anniversary With Community

Andrew Reitz, OFM In the Headlines

TAMPA, Fla. — Francis Weekend at Sacred Heart Church was a busy one. Not only did the community celebrate the feast of St. Francis but it commemorated the 150th anniversary of the parish.

The large number of attendees showed the interest they have in St. Francis and the meaning of his life and death. Commemorations began Friday evening with the Transitus.

This is our fifth year here and the number of people who came for the parish commemorations showed the interest that our community has in St. Francis and the meaning of his life and death. Over the weekend at all our Masses, the message of St. Francis was conveyed to our people. Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, was here to celebrate the 10:30 a.m. Mass.

On Sunday afternoon, as part of our 150th anniversary, the new Tampa Bay History Museum hosted a luncheon for the grand opening of the church’s 150th Anniversary display in the museum. One of the features of the new museum is a community section where various groups are invited to create a display showing their organization, which will then be on display for a month or two. Our display had photos of the early church, St. Louis, when it began in 1860 and the new church, Sacred Heart, dedicated in 1905.

The Church of St. Louis of France extended its mission from the West Coast of Florida to the East Coast and south to Key West. Enlarged photos of the interior of the church and of some of the beautiful stained glass windows above the altar attracted the attention of all who passed by the display. An original statue of St. Louis from the early church, a statue of St. Francis, a historic monstrance, a Latin altar missal, and an altar crucifix from a former mission church are also part of the display.

The vision and mission of Sacred Heart today are placed within the display to give people an understanding of who we are today. Our 150th Anniversary Committee put the display together with the help of one of the museum curators. The display will remain at the museum for two months.

Our daily Masses on Monday continued our celebration and in the evening a large crowd gathered to hear Dominic give a presentation on “The Spiritualities of St. Francis and St. Ignatius.” Dominic’s excellent talk gave the similarities of the lives of these two saints and their spiritualities as well as the differences of each. The presentation was well received, especially by those who had been a part of the parish when the Jesuits were here from 1888 to 2005.

Francis Weekend was a significant part of our parish’s 150th anniversary. The next event of our anniversary year will come in November when we will celebrate an outdoor Mass near the graves of two early pastors who died of the yellow fever in the 1860’s. They preceded the arrival of the Jesuits in 1888.

Earlier this year, Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, joined the parish in a celebration.

— Fr. Andrew is pastor of Sacred Heart Church where he serves with friars George Corrigan, OFM, Sean O’Brien, OFM, and Juan Turcios, OFM.