All posts by Lynda Marsh

Our Christmas Schedule

Christmas draws ever closer, and we hope you plan to spend either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day celebrating with us at Sacred Heart.  Our schedule for the 2017/2018 Christmas season is as follows:

Fourth Sunday of Advent Vigil – Saturday, December 23rd, 2017:
– Vigil Mass at 5:30 pm

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Sunday, December 24th, 2017 (morning):
– Masses: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, and 10:30 am (There will be no 12:00 pm Mass.)

Christmas Eve – Sunday, December 24th, 2017 (afternoon/evening):
– Vigil Mass w/ Children’s Pageant – 4:00 pm (Church doors will not open until 3:00 pm.)
– Vigil Masses: 6:00 pm, 8:00 pm
– Mass during the Night (Midnight Mass):  11:00 pm

Christmas Day – Monday, December 25th, 2017:
– Parish office closed.
– Masses: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 pm
*There will be no 5:30 pm Mass.

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017- Daily Mass
– Mass at 9:00 am

December 27th though 29th, 2017 – Daily Mass
– Mass at 12:10 pm

Sunday December 31st, 2017 – The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
– Masses: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, and 5:30 pm

Monday, January 1st, 2018- Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
– Solemnity Mass: 9:00 am
*This year, while a holy day, it is not a day of obligation.

A Servant’s Heart

Our Liturgy & Music ministries provide an excellent opportunity for you to utilize your talents and gifts in service to one another and the larger parish community. And one such ministry that falls within this category is our Altar Servers.

The primary role of an Altar Server is to assist the priest in the celebration of the Mass, but they also fulfill many roles during the liturgy, including carrying the processional cross and candles, holding the missal for the celebrant as needed, assisting the priest as he receives the offertory gifts, washing the hands of the priest before the prayer over the gifts, carrying the incense and thurible, and removing items from the altar during communion.

The server is the priest’s right-hand helper. When they serve the priests, they serve the people of God, and above all, they serve Christ. Doc Dougherty, the ministry lead, has a unique perspective of the Altar Server Ministry; not only is he the leader, but also the proud parent of five Sacred Heart altar servers. We recently reached out to the Dougherty family about their experiences with the Altar Server Ministry…

“Our children absolutely love serving at Mass,” said Doc Dougherty. Doc and his wife, Alexandrea, are the parents of Alexis 18, Micayla 16, Colton 15, Carter 13, and 12-year old Larissa. After serving for several years at Sacred Heart’s “sister church” of the same architect, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Macon, Ga., the Dougherty’s were excited to become a part of Sacred Heart Church, whose interior looks similar to the church they served for five years. Alexandrea Dougherty said, “Our children are more engaged in the Mass than when they are sitting in the pews.” Micayla Dougherty agreed by adding, “When I am not serving, I truly feel like I am missing out on something.” Servers perform their duties in a sincere and reverent manner. Attentiveness to the words and actions of the Mass will ensure that the liturgy unfolds in a smooth and prayerful manner for all. Of utmost importance, however, is not really the things they do, but the example they give. “As an altar server, I have been able to grow as a person being responsible for assisting in the Mass,” said Alexis Dougherty. “I remember not wanting to be an altar server when I was first asked to do it, but now I can’t imagine not being a server!” “We have seen all of our children show great leadership skills by altar serving,” added Doc. “Our children are the first ones to the van in the morning, always wanting to get to Mass really early, as well as serve every holiday.” The simple requirements necessary to be an altar server include: be a registered member of Sacred Heart Parish, regularly receive communion, and have completed at least 4th grade. Doc ended by saying, “It is a lot easier to develop a Catholic foundation when a child is young than when they are older, and serving at the altar is no doubt an experience and honor that will last a lifetime.”

Sacred Heart is always seeking additional children who want to become altar servers. Please prayerfully consider joining our upcoming altar-server training session on Monday, December 11th at 6:30 pm in the church.

Order Your Christmas Poinsettias

Remember a loved one during the Christmas season with a poinsettia used to decorate our sanctuary. A long-standing tradition, each plant that you see has been given in remembrance or honor of loved ones whose names will be memorialized online.

Request forms can be found on the table near the church entrance, or download one here. All forms, along with the suggestion donation of $15 per plant, must be received by noon on Monday, December 18th.



#GivingTuesday is Here!

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday…the holidays are a time for us to get caught up with the busyness and stress of the season. But Giving Tuesday refocuses our attention to the joy of the holidays and motivates us to share our good fortunes with those in need. Here at Sacred Heart, we invite you to consider making a donation to our own outreach ministries in celebration of #GivingTuesday.

– Hands of Hope – Every week we prepare a meal for the homeless in our community. The majority of the food is donated but there is still much to buy each week.

– Foster Care – Parishioners serve as mentors for foster kids. Activities and outings are important. Our mentors are using their own money to make this happen. Let’s help them in their ministry!

– Haiti Ministry – Our Haiti ministry helps the people of St. Gabriel’s Parish in Beau Séjour, Haiti. Projects include building a permanent church as well as our ongoing dental and medical missions.

Click here to register with our Online Giving program or make a quick gift.  Thank you!

A Home-Cooked Meal

Our Hospitality ministries go beyond just welcoming new and current parishioners – they also welcome our students studying close by at various universities, especially the University of Tampa. Each month, they host a home-cooked meal for our students who attend the 5:30 pm Sunday evening Mass.

In addition to participating in this meal, the dinners provide an opportunity for students to meet fellow Catholic students and active parishioners at Sacred Heart and enjoy a nice break from studying, homework, and other pressures of student life. Volunteers to this ministry help host, cook, set up, and clean up each event as well as get to know and form mentorships and friendships with the younger members of our parish community.

One of our volunteers, Jennifer Agana, tells us why she joined this ministry and what keeps her coming back…

I was inspired to join the UT Dinner ministry after the worst event of my life, the loss of my son who was a college student. College can be a difficult time for our young students, and we strive to give them a spiritual outlet for their busy schedules. This ministry provides an outreach to students who are far from their home and church. Students can attend church, join us for dinners, and get to know our friars and hospitality ministers.

I was surprised to learn that we have a large group of Catholic students at UT, around 1,400. Fr. Michael is our go-to friar, and he helps with other events for the students. We have a Blessing of the Brains before spring and fall finals weeks. We offer Mass and ashes on Ash Wednesday, and we recruit students to help with our Children and Youth Faith Formation program.

Sacred Heart and UT have a special relationship. Our downtown location and close proximity offer a great venue for Catholic students to practice their faith.

We have a great hospitality crew who all chip in to prepare food, setup, serve and cleanup. We love to cook and it’s great to see the way the food brings us together. We host seven to eight dinners each year. Lastly, our Sunday night College Dinners, although they are most often called UT Dinners, are for all college students, including USF and HCC. All you need to do is show up.

And Fr. Michael tells us why he has such a fondness for this ministry…

When I first arrived at Sacred Heart in February 2016, I was really excited when I noticed a good number of young college-aged students attending the 5:30 pm Mass. I became even more excited when I found out that we have an outreach program for the students here at SHC – the University of Tampa (UT) Sunday Dinner! It always inspires me to see young people being so fervent with their faith. Therefore, I always make sure to encourage and support them the best way I can.

The friars are very gracious with their time. We go to UT for Ash Wednesday Mass during Lent and the Blessings of the Brains Mass before UT’s examination week. However, I feel like we can do more for the students at UT.

Therefore, together with the awesome UT Catholic Student Organization team at UT and their wonderful coordinators, we came up with “Café con Padre.” It is basically a “theology on tap program” without the “tap,” since some of the students are underage. We meet once a month and it involves open and informal conversation about life and faith in general. I am impressed and inspired by the depth of conversation and sharing that I had with some of the students at UT.

In addition to “Café con Padre,” I also have a scheduled once-a-month Sunday late evening mass at UT. The mass starts at 9:00 pm with reconciliation at 8:30 pm. Celebrating Mass this late on Sunday night and on the campus draws a good number of students. It also helps that we have a very good musician, Sam Corson, providing us with contemporary praise and worship music. I am truly blessed to be a part of this awesome ministry! Go Spartans!

And one of our Sacred Heart students, Brittany Anderson, tells us what this ministry means to her…

It’s hard to believe that four years ago, I had no idea where I would spend my college years. Choosing a school was a not a decision I took lightly – ask my parents and they will (probably after taking a deep sigh) tell you about the hundreds of “please apply to our school” letters, countless spreadsheets, eighteen college visits, sixteen applications, and fifteen acceptance letters to schools from Tampa to Maine. Finally, I chose University of Tampa after an admissions counselor told me about the growing Catholic community. I was honestly nervous coming to a college that wasn’t Catholic and I spent the summer before my freshman year wondering if I had made the right choice. I’m from New Hampshire and didn’t know anyone when I got here; however, Sacred Heart has been such a blessing. The availability of the sacraments is a dream and the Friars are all wonderful and so welcoming. From the dinners for students every month to the masses on campus, to the sheer amount of events and ministries Sacred Heart offers that aren’t a part of campus ministry at all, this community is one I consider myself lucky to be a part of. I have so many different memories here and it’s hard to imagine what my college experience would look like without Sacred Heart. As a senior, I’m in a similar place as I was in four years ago. However, having been formed by Sacred Heart, I know I’ll be okay wherever I end up.

If you’re a student at the University of Tampa, or any of our local universities, you’re invited to our next dinner…

Sunday, October 15th at 6:30 pm in the St. Francis Hall
*Immediately following the 5:30 pm Mass.

Our Upcoming Franciscan Celebrations

Next Wednesday, October 4th, marks the patronal feast day of Franciscans across the globe – the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. It is a time when Franciscan communities come together to remember the passing of Francis from this world to the next, to celebrate his life and legacy in Masses and gatherings, and to hold events that are notably Franciscan. We hope you can join us at one of the upcoming events below.

Sunday, October 1st
On Sunday, October 1st, the Franciscan friars will hold the annual Blessing of the Animals. Bring your beloved pets and furry friends to the North Campus for a blessing and to share in God’s blessing of all of creation.

Sacred Heart North Campus (3515 N. Florida Ave.)
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm



Tuesday, October 3rd
francis-transitusOn Tuesday, October 3rd, join the friars and parish community for a celebration of the Transitus. Every year on the third evening of October, Franciscans ritually remember the passing of Francis of Assisi from this life into God as a reminder to renew our own commitment to follow Christ in the way of the poor man from Assisi. You can read more about the Transitus here.

Sacred Heart Church
7:00 pm




Wednesday, October 4th
The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi occurs on Tuesday, October 4th, every year. The feast will be celebrated at each of the daily Masses, at 7:00 am and 12:10 pm on this day. To learn more about the life of St. Francis, we encourage you to explore the links below.

The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
The Life of St. Francis of Assisi
What is a Friar?

Special Bible Study Series: A Letter to the Romans

Have you ever thought about joining our Bible Study program? Held weekly on Tuesdays throughout the year, they cover all sorts of topics – from weekly readings to special series on different themes. One of those special series will be starting soon!

Starting Tuesday, September 19th, Fr. George will lead everyone in a discussion about St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Why focus on St. Paul? The majority of the “books” that make up the New Testament are attributed to St. Paul of Tarsus, the apostle chosen by Christ, while on the road to Damascus, to be the one sent (apostolos) to the Gentiles. As Luke Timothy Johnson [259] notes: “The Christian Movement found its first and most vivid voice in the letters of the apostle Paul. The evangelists remained anonymous behind their shaping of Jesus’ story. Paul’s letters, by contrast, reveal a human personality so forcibly, yet with such great complexity that, for some, coming to grips with Christianity means first of all coming to grips with Paul. Paul’s personality appears at first to be full of contradictory elements. He can be gentle (2 Cor. 10:1) and also harsh (1 Cor. 4:21). He is full of restless energy (2 Cor. 2:12–13), yet also of firm resolution (2 Cor. 1:17). He claims to be weak rather than strong (2 Cor. 12:5), even as he boasts of power (2 Cor. 12:11). He is sublime in the expression of ideals (Rom. 12:14) but very human in his lack of them (Gal. 5:12).”

September 19th – December 12th
Tuesdays at 7:00 pm
San Damiano Center

And if you ever decide to try and tackle the Bible on your own, Fr. George has some tips and tricks for doing just that. Check out his blog articles below:
How to Read the Bible
How Not to Read the Bible

Special Announcement for Hurricane Irma

Updated Announcement on Parish Activities
Sacred Heart and the parish office survived Hurricane Irma with no damage, and both have power and a fully-operational air conditioning system! We hope all of our parishioners are slowly but surely getting their homes and lives back in order too after the storm.

As we continue to resume normal life and activities, we’ve provided an updated look at our parish calendar and Mass schedule for the rest of this week.

Our normal weekday Mass and Confession schedule resumes Wednesday, 9/13.
– Daily Mass: 7:00 am and 12:10 pm
– Confessions: 11:30 am

Our normal weekend Mass schedule will be in place for all Masses on the weekend of 9/16 and 9/17.

Parish Office:
The parish office will re-open on Wednesday, 9/13 with limited staff.

Parish Activities:
– Tuesday: EM Training and Choir practice have been canceled for this evening, 9/12.
– Wednesday: Family Faith Formation has been canceled for Wednesday, 9/13 and will resume on Wednesday, 9/20.
– Thursday: All meetings and events will go on as scheduled.

The Friars and Parish Staff are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irma and its projected path. Please see below for news and updates on our parish activities for this weekend.

MASS SCHEDULE (Saturday thru Monday)
Due to the most recent Hurricane Irma track, the Mass Schedule for this weekend has been adjusted again. Mass will only be held at the following time:
– Saturday: 5:30 pm Vigil Mass

Please note: All Sunday Masses (7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 pm and 5:30 pm) have been canceled.

We have also adjusted the Mass schedule for early next week. Please see below for current details:
– Monday, 9/11: No Daily Mass (7:00 am and 12:10 pm have been canceled) or Confessions.
– Tuesday, 9/12: TBD based on the effects of the storm.

From Bishop Parkes: The Catholic faithful are reminded to exercise prudence as they seek to fulfill their Mass obligation […] The Office of the Bishop urges all Catholics to heed the travel advisories of their cities and towns, and to stay off the roads during the peak hours of the storm. The faithful are encouraged to use good judgment when planning to travel to Mass. In the event that roadways are not clear for travel, the faithful are reminded that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass does not apply when there is grave difficulty in fulfilling this obligation. (See Code of Canon Law, Canon 1248 §2)”

MASS PARKING (Saturday thru Monday)
– The Madison Building garage will be closed all weekend and unavailable for parking during Mass.
– 717 Parking has given us access to their parking lot (at no charge) immediately across the street for the limited Mass schedule on Saturday. The usual 717 lot at the corner of Kennedy Blvd. and Florida Ave. is also available.

PARISH ACTIVITIES (Saturday thru Monday)
– Faith Formation classes are canceled for Sunday, September 10th.
– The Children’s Nursery during the 9:00 am and 10:30 am Masses will not be available this weekend.
– Children’s Liturgy of the Word (CLOW) has been canceled for the 9:00 am Mass on September 10th.
– The Coffee & Donuts Ministry has canceled their 3rd Annual Pancake Breakfast.
– The Docents of Friends of Sacred Heart have canceled their church tour scheduled for Sunday, September 10th. Their next tour will be held on Sunday, October 8th.
– The University of Tampa Dinner is canceled for Sunday, September 10th. The next dinner is scheduled for Sunday, October 15th.
– The first RCIA Inquiry session is canceled for Monday, September 11th.

Let us keep each other in prayer, as well as all people in our local community and State. May God watch over us and keep us safe.

A Hand for the Hopeless

Another one of our thriving ministries under Franciscan Care is Hands of Hope, which is an outreach ministry serving the poor and homeless of our community. Each weekend, a meal is prepared and then served to our neighbors in need. Throughout the day, we share fellowship and resources of hope and healing for the physical, mental, and personal needs of our guests.

One of our parishioners, Chrysteile Murphy, tells us how it all began.

“This year is the 10th anniversary of Hands of Hope Ministry. It was started by parishioner Kim Colarusso, who was passionate about assisting the people who suffer from mental illness and as a result are homeless. The Spirit moved her to offer assistance and dignity to those who struggle with homelessness. The ministry has grown and evolved over the years. Love is the one thing that has remained at the center. Many volunteers come to make a difference to others and quickly realize it has an impact on them as well. Every week a small army of God’s workers keeps things running smoothly. From those who attend often to those who are coming for the first time, each brings his or her own special talent. Many say something moved them the first time they came and it keeps them coming again and again. There is a kinship that draws them into the moment and leaves them with a lasting feeling. Many say they truly feel God’s love in the work and in the people. As a ministry, each week we strive to see Christ in those we serve and to be a true reflection of his love and light to all those we encounter. Matthew’s words provide the foundation and mission of our ministry, “… whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:35-40)”

Our young adults and teens can even get in on the action. Carl Redderson shares his experiences of working with two such parishioners. “Alea and Chad are soon to be Juniors at Plant High School and have been faithful in attendance this summer and a huge help. Alea says it is because they are aware of the tremendous needs out there and they want to be of service to the community, to the homeless and working poor. All the students who work with us are a big part of the Ministry especially because of their infectious enthusiasm.”

Alea Jennings and Chad Mendez preparing the to-go bags.

Another one of our parishioners, Gaile Rametta, tells us what inspires her to keep coming back and giving of her time.

“This is such a rewarding ministry because of the community we serve and those volunteers we’re privileged to work along side. I am pleased to share one of our recipes. Since this ministry is such a collaborative effort, the recipe should rightfully bare the title Hands of Hope Jambalaya – not attributable to one specific person, but the group as a whole.”

1 lb. bulk pork sausage
1 large Spanish onion (diced)
1 bell pepper (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
2 Links Andouille sausage (sliced)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 box Zatarains Jambalaya Mix
1 box Zatarains Dirty Rice Mix
26 oz. chicken broth

– Sauté ground sausage over a medium-high heat until cooked through.
– Add next 3 ingredients and sweat for 3-5 minutes.
– Add Andouille sausage. Stir to combine thoroughly.
– Empty both boxes of Zatarains into this vegetable-sausage mixture and stir to incorporate spices/juices for about a minute or two.
– Add the diced tomatoes and incorporate for about a minute or two.
– Add chicken broth and stir to incorporate.
– Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes (liquid should be absorbed leaving the rice fluffy. If not, add a little bit more broth/water).
– Remove from heat. Leave covered until served.






To learn more about Hands of Hope, click here.