Category Archives: Parish News

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!

All Souls Remembrances

Last Sunday, October 29th, we celebrated our parish Candle Lighting Ceremony in memory of all of our deceased loved ones. The solemnity of the ceremony helped us to remember our loved ones who meant so much to us in this life and who have now passed onto God’s bright glory. Thank you to our parishioners who requested memorial candles and to those who participated in this special service. A very special thank you to Friends of Sacred Heart for organizing this event. You may find a complete list of donors and their loved ones here.

Discerning Commitment Sunday

The weekend of November 4th and 5th our parish will celebrate “Commitment Sunday.” It is a time to show that you belong to Sacred Heart. Belonging to a parish community, to be a people of faith, means that we are also called to share our time and our talents. How do you discern how God is calling you to bring forward your gifts? Discernment is a word Christians often use instead of “making a decision” or “picking a choice,” although it means more than that. Discerning something means taking the ideas, the options, and the choices to prayer in order to ask God where and how He is leading you.

God calls each one of us to a work of love that fills your life with purpose and joy. Discerning your charisms can help you discover that call. Charisms are spiritual gifts that are given to us to be given away, to be used and, in the using are a sign of God’s loving presence in the world. Discerning your gifts can be done in “six easy steps.”


Step #1: Pray for Guidance
The discernment process involves listening for God’s direction and guidance for our lives. In order to hear Him, we need to be tuned into His voice through prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments. The New Testament describes charisms in 1 Cor 12 and Romans 12 that include service, wisdom, knowledge, teaching, administration, helping, and pastoring. This all points to the breadth of talents and abilities needed to build and be the Kingdom of God in our time and place. Praying for God’s guidance will help you to see more clearly your gifts, talents, interests, and the, “Hey, I might like to try that,” opportunities available. In addition, understanding your charisms can help you simplify your life and avoid burnout. If you know your gifts, it becomes easier to say, “no” when people ask you for things that you don’t really have to give. And because it is unusually energizing and fulfilling to exercise a charism, you are much less likely to burn out if you are working in your area of giftedness.

Step #2: List Your Options
Now that you have taken it all into prayer, make a list of your options, so that you can survey the choices in front of you.  The “Get Involved” section of our website has a lot of information on the different ministries we have to offer.  That will be a good place to start, but you may discover in your discernment process a call to start a new ministry that we don’t offer.

Step #3: Ask Questions
Start examining the options. You can continue to take it all into prayer. The answers to these questions will (hopefully) start pointing you in some direction. We’re discerning through these options along with God, so don’t blaze through the questions on your own. Take them to prayer, and ask God what He thinks. Ask Him to help you answer these questions. Be with Him in silence, read scripture, give Him a chance to talk. You can start with the questions below, and ask others as they present themselves. Also, consider asking a friend who knows you well to help you identify your gifts. Some questions to get you started:
– What are the needs of the church and its current ministries?
– Do I feel drawn to any of the ministries more than others?
– Do I see a gap in ministries offered?

Step #4: Next Action Steps
For the choices that remain, what are the next steps you would take to explore these options? What actions can you take to check them out? Continue to pray.

Step #5: Choose & Trust
Hopefully, an option has risen to the top. You don’t have to be 110% convinced that this is exactly the will of God and the absolute best decision you’ll ever make. As long as you’re spending time in prayer, remaining close to the Sacraments, and following God’s peace, you are on the right path. Now make your choice, and trust in God.

Step #6: Just Do It…And Learn
Once you have chosen, start and give it a while. Continue to reflect upon your involvement in ministry in prayer and in the Sacraments. The entire process will help you to deepen your faith, see more clearly, and grow ever closer to God. And then see Step 1. The process never really ends.

How will you get involved? Visit our Ministry page to explore all of your options to give of your time and talent to the larger parish community. We would love to have 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