Category Archives: Parish News

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

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.


U.S. Franciscans Statement on Charlottesville Violence

As followers of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of peace, we, the Franciscans Friars of the United States join with the many public and religious leaders and fellow-citizens who have condemned the recent violence in Charlottesville, VA.

We hold that all forms of racism, white supremacy, neo-nazism, xenophobia and hatred are wrong.

Because we believe that every person is created by God in love, we also hold that disrespect or diminishment of—or violence against–anyone offends not only that person but also the One who created that person.

As Franciscans, we strive to be bridge-builders. To avoid future instances of the tragic violence that tore not only the community of Charlottesville but also the fabric of our nation, we call for a renewed commitment to respectful dialogue by all, whereby our opinions and differences can be shared in constructive and illuminating ways that lead to the possibility of growth and conversion for all. Such dialogue might lead us beyond the overt displays of violence and intolerance into an understanding of the subtler and even unconscious forms of discrimination and intolerance that may still inhabit our hearts as well as our society.

We commit ourselves to the responsibility of respect for and dialogue with all who seem “other” than ourselves. And we pray that all the citizens of our nation will join in striving to attain respect and peace in our communities.

Provincial Ministers of the United States of America

Very Rev. David Gaa, OFM
St. Barbara Province
Oakland, California

Very Rev. James Gannon, OFM
Assumption BVM Province
Franklin, Wisconsin

Very Rev. Kevin Mullen, OFM
Holy Name Province
New York, New York

Very Rev. Robert Campagna, OFM
Immaculate Conception Province
New York, New York

Very Rev. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM
Our Lady of Guadalupe Province
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Very Rev. Mark Soehner, OFM
St. John the Baptist Province
Cincinnati, Ohio

Very Rev. Thomas Nairn, OFM
Sacred Heart Province
St. Louis, Missouri

Where Two or Three Are Gathered

Did you know Sacred Heart has a Rosary Devotional Group? This ministry meets once a month, on the first Saturday of each month. They pray the rosary together and then dine out a local restaurant afterwards. All members of Sacred Heart are welcome to join, so be on the lookout for their next meeting in the bulletin.

We also invite you to read more about this wonderful ministry and what inspired one of our parishioners to join.

An Interview with Maureen Todaro, Rosary Devotional Group Ministry Leader…

What inspired you to join this ministry?
“When I saw the notice in the bulletin about our rosary group, I immediately knew that it was an ideal way to re-discover a familiar prayer.”

What do you like most about being part of the Rosary Devotional Group?
“Knowing that we have this special time set aside to come together, sharing this gift of prayer from and for Our Lady. Some of our members are not able to come to our gathering, but join us at home, so we are united in spirit.”

How long have you been part of this particular ministry and what keeps you doing it?
“I have been a member about two years, and I keep doing it because I believe in the power of communal prayer.”

What would you tell others who are thinking about joining?
“If you are longing to get closer to God, this is a perfect first step. We provide rosary pamphlets with complete prayers and all the Mysteries. Rose Springer brings her hand-made rosaries for anyone who needs one. And recall what Jesus said in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

What we want you to know.
“We are a welcoming group, and Bernadette Gaudion, former ministry leader, warmly greets new members. Before we begin we take time in silence to place ourselves in the presence of Our Lord and his Blessed Mother. At the conclusion of prayer, we share a meal at a local restaurant. See you soon!”

Some might be intimidated with the thought of praying the rosary – whether the time it takes or the prayers that are said – but there’s no need to panic. A complete guide to praying the rosary can be found here.

And did you know our Franciscans have their own version of the Rosary? Known as the Franciscan Crown, it has one extra decade, seven total, in commemoration of the Seven Joys of the Virgin. Read more here.

The Missionary Spirit of Franciscans

This weekend, August 5th and 6th, will bring a very special guest to Sacred Heart. Br. John Aherne, OFM, who interned with us during the summer of 2014 will be visiting us and sharing his experiences with the Franciscan Missionary Union.

What is the Franciscan Missionary Union?
The Franciscan Missionary Union’s philosophy of mission is influenced by the life and works of St. Francis of Assisi. The goal of the Holy Name Province Franciscan Missionary Union is to offer lay Catholics an encounter with diverse cultures — from the street children and orphans of Nairobi to the chronically homeless inhabitants of Washington D.C. — so that everyone involved can experience the grace of Christ more fully. Mission represents an opportunity for the people of non-Christian cultures to encounter the Church in its concrete form, and for individual Catholics to be transformed by the holiness contained in the traditions of those cultures. At the heart of FMU programs is the idea of “reverse mission,” which refers to the gifts that local churches receive from their missionary activities abroad. By extending missionary opportunities to lay Catholics, we believe the Church will reap the rewards of a new generation of Catholics, capable of responding with a missionary spirit to changing times.

After his summer at Sacred Heart, Br. John left to finish his seminary studies, and the next summer saw him embark on a mission trip to Kenya. Here are Br. John’s own words about the experience.

“I’m so happy to be returning to Sacred Heart to share my experiences with the Franciscan Missionary Union! I never wanted to have anything to do with the missions. Whenever people came to my parish to raise money for missionary groups like the FMU, I was happy to give, especially since I had absolutely no desire to be a missionary. I had lived in New York City for all of my life and that was enough of an adventure for me. God, of course, had other plans. My time with the FMU working in an orphanage in Kenya and leading a mission trip to South Africa are among the most intense religious experiences of my life. Like the disciples in this week’s Gospel reading (MT 17:1-9), I found myself standing on holy ground, seeing and hearing Christ in a way that I never had before, and inspired to share the Good News of His Gospel with greater passion and vision. All of this is thanks to the good work of the FMU.”

And how has the Franciscan Missionary Union played a role in our every day parish life? This past April, five Sacred Heart parishioners, Marguerite Brennan, Loretta Callahan, Angie Ducker, Maria Ortega, and Avril Wick, traveled with our Holy Name Province, Franciscan Missionary Union, on a mission trip of presence and relationship building to Cuba. Our parishioners were led by Maggie Kibler, on behalf of FMU, and they stayed in Havana, Remedios, and Trinidad. By sharing daily life with the Franciscan Friars in Havana and visiting the homes of local families in Cuba, the group witnessed the complexities of Cuban life and the peoples’ determination, struggles, successes, and ingenuity. This memorable experience was transformative for many of the group as they saw the immense beauty of the country and its people, and their perseverance in light of political, social, and economic hardships.

So how can you help?
This weekend, August 5th and 6th, we are taking up a special collection for the Franciscan Missionary Union. There will be envelopes in the pews in case you wish to give. We hope you prayerfully consider giving to this worthy cause.