Category Archives: Parish News

Six Easy Steps to Discernment

To belong 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. Our bulletin for our Mass of Belonging on October 4th is not going to be our regular “bulletin,” but rather a worship aid and a stewardship magazine that lists the ministries and groups that we have at Sacred Heart. That list 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? As we mentioned, we will have four ministry fairs in the weeks following the Mass of Belonging. At each fair, there will be people that can help answer any questions you may have and give you some background on the ministry you may be interested in. 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.

Our Franciscan Weekend

Next Tuesday, 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 2nd
2014_blessing_of_animails-36On Sunday, October 2nd, 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



Monday, October 3rd
francis-transitusOn Monday, 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




Tuesday, October 4th
KLC_3866The 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?

A Look at Centering Prayer

JFP_3917Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us. It is a simple but rich way to grow in intimacy and love of God.

Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer – verbal, mental, or affective prayer – into a receptive prayer of resting in God.

Following the teaching of Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O, a Trappist monk who introduced centering/contemplative prayer into the Catholic world, Sacred Heart will offer a 4-week session on learning and practicing centering prayer together.  Class dates and times are listed below.  We hope you will join us!


Tuesday, August 16th
7:00 pm

Tuesday, August 23rd
7:00 pm

Tuesday, August 30th
7:00 pm

Tuesday, September 6th
7:00 pm

All sessions will be held in the San Damiano Center.

A Statement on Violence

The friars here at Sacred Heart are members of The Holy Name of Jesus Province. Our Provincial Minister, Fr. Kevin Mullen OFM, has written a wonderful open letter in the light of this past 10 days of violence across the globe and so close to home here in the United States. Please take a moment to read, reflect, and pray about Fr. Kevin’s message.

FrKevinMullenOFMDear Brothers,

Sad to say that each day seems to be filled with more and more stories which indicate the spread of violence increasing on global, national, and local levels. This blanket of violence seems to be like a plague that knows no boundaries. In just the past week or so, we are repulsed to learn about the senseless loss of life in Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, Orlando, Falcon Heights (Minnesota), Baton Rouge, and Dallas. People have been targeted and killed because of their religion, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and profession. The perpetrators of these killings seem to be filled with ignorance, fear, and hatred. They tragically disregard the intrinsic value of life and commit crimes against God and humanity.

We, Franciscan friars, must recognize that the current context of our world has a profound impact upon the way we choose to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the 21st century. Now more than ever, we must choose peace and we must witness to the value of non-violence. We must see ourselves first and foremost as instruments of peace, healing, and reconciliation. We are called to be bridge-builders. We enter into the midst of the ignorance, fear, and hatred, and we offer a different response – not an “eye-for-an eye” or a “get even” type of response, but rather an alternate approach that walks in the midst of suffering, injustice, pain and death and calls out in a non-violent voice for understanding, dialogue, healing, justice, mercy and peaceful resolutions.

As friars, our attitudes, words, and actions express our deeply held convictions. Each friar must resolve to intensify his relationship with God through individual and communal prayer, especially though the celebration of the Eucharist. As members of local fraternities-in-mission we must live at peace with one another in order to give credible witness to the people we serve. In our work and in our ministries, we must always promote peace, harmony, and the cause of justice. Our words should be expressed in ways that help to build-up and bring people together as opposed to the words – expressed all too frequently in these times – that tear down and cause disruption and divisions.

Fifty-three years ago within our country when basic human and civil rights were being denied to African-Americans, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. writing from his prison cell in Birmingham, Alabama, reminded people of some fundamental truths. Dr. King wrote, “I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

His words challenged and united people then, and they can hopefully do the same for us now. We must remember we are all sisters and brothers.

Sacred Heart Summer Series – The Spirituality of Sacred Icons

In Communion With the Divine Beauty: A Presentation on the Spirituality of Sacred Icons

lefouOur special Summer Series is back! Join Fr. Michael for a four-week presentation on “The Spirituality of Sacred Icons.”

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Each one prays to God according to his own light.” Some pray with words and litanies, others with movement and hymns, and others with sacred images or icons.  For centuries, icons have been a significant part of worship in Eastern Orthodox Churches. They are known as “windows” into the spiritual world, allowing us to glimpse that world and be in communion with the beauty of the Divine. More recently, however, people from other faith traditions have become enthralled by the beauty and mystery of icons. Today, icons can be found in churches of various denominations, houses, museums, and even hospitals.

Class topics and descriptions can be found below. We hope you can join us each week!

Understanding the Basics of Iconography
– July 12th at 7:00 pm
– San Damiano Center

This session will provide a brief history and background of these sacred images, including the materials and processes used to create them. Fr. Michael will also help us interpret their visual and spiritual language.

sophiaIcons of Christ
– July 19th at 7:00 pm
– San Damiano Center

This session will highlight the different icons of Christ, including the history and background of some of these sacred works. Fr. Michael will also discuss the visual and spiritual language of these different icons and present a pastoral reflection.

Icons of Mary, The Mother of God
– July 26th at 7:00 pm
– San Damiano Center

This session will feature the different icons of Mary, including their history and background. Fr. Michael will also discuss the visual and spiritual language of these different icons and present a pastoral reflection.

Icons of Saints and Holy People
– August 2nd at 7:00 pm
– San Damiano Center

This session will focus on the different icons of Saints and Holy People as painted by Fr. Michael himself, as well as Br. Robert Lentz, OFM, his teacher and mentor. He will also discuss the visual and spiritual language of these different icons and present a pastoral reflection.

Are You An Alzheimer’s Caregiver?

Alzheimers-CaregiverNancy Parente from the Alzheimer’s Association of the Florida Gulf Coast will present two classes on caregiver support and education, as well as provide references for services that are available here in the Tampa Bay area for both the patient and the caregiver. Class details are below. We hope you can join us.

Tuesday, July 5th – 7:00 pm
– St. Francis Hall

Tuesday, August 2nd – 7:00 pm
– St. Francis Hall

Eucharist and Justice

EucharistWhen the English historian Christopher Dawson decided to become a Roman Catholic, his aristocratic mother was distraught, not because of Catholic teaching, but because now her son would, in her words, have to “worship with the help.” His background would no longer set him apart from others or above anyone. At church he would be just an equal among equals because the Eucharist would strip him of his higher social status. It was this very thing that first drew Dorothy Day to Christianity. During the Eucharist, she noticed the rich and the poor knelt side by side; all humbled before the great gift of Christ. Around the Eucharistic table what Mary prophesized in her Magnificat came to be, that, in Jesus, the mighty would be brought down and that lowly would be raised up. Continue reading Eucharist and Justice

2016 Special Seminarian Collection

May 21st & May 22nd

We invite you to watch a short video (created by our Pastoral Year Seminarians!) that shows seminary life and explains the financial funding sources.

Seminarian Collection

Why are we doing a special collection for Seminarians – doesn’t the Annual Pastoral Appeal pay for that?
There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that the Annual Pastoral Appeal (APA) has never quite been enough to cover all the expenses of the 24 seminarians. The good news is that there was a generous donation that set up a Seminarian Burse Fund to supplement the shortfall in APA donations. The even better news is that we now have 30 seminarians in studies, which means the Burse Fund will be depleted in two years as the extra costs are covered. Continue reading 2016 Special Seminarian Collection

What To Do?

…from Pam Ferron, Director of Parish Life & Communications


“Why would I know?”


Have you heard a similar “conversation” in your house? Probably, if you have two teenage girls (yes, I’m stereotyping, but growing up with two sisters and having two daughters, it is what I know. Maybe boys argue just as much over clothes, hmmm?). As a mother, what is our role? Stop the argument, try to get the siblings to have a rational conversation (good luck with that!), ignore it?

My mom always did a good job of being a peacemaker, and I’m fortunate that my mother is still living and continues to be a wonderful example for me. She was not just the peacemaker, but she was also the one who helped us with our homework, fed us, encouraged us when we struggled, forgave us when we misbehaved, loved us even when we weren’t that lovable. Hmmm, who does that sound like? Continue reading What To Do?