Category Archives: Parish News

Good Deeds, Done in Love | Friar Reflections | The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

In this weekend’s Gospel, we see Jesus continuing with the Sermon on the Mount, with a section sometimes titled as the Similes of Salt and Light: When He says, “You are the light of the world,” Jesus believes that when we work through him we provide hope to our community. Our parish takes that seriously. We trust that His words in today’s Gospel carry power and we are going to draw from it. We know from experience that we can shine the light of Christ through good deeds, done in love. We need your help to be able to continue doing that for our local community. Just as you are a light, our Catholic Ministry Appeal is a light for all who rely on the ministries of our Church. Without your support, we can’t reach those who need Christ’s light to see. With your help, we can increase our impact, draw our neighbors into God’s house, and help our church burn brightly. Please help our goal of increasing our parish’s participation rate for this appeal. Any gift that you are able to contribute is welcomed and greatly appreciated. Thank you for your consideration in this appeal | Click here to make your gift to the appeal.

To update you, while the job was more involved than we initially thought, we are getting close to the completion of restorations for southernmost set of doors at the front of the church. We are waiting for the updated hardware to be delivered to allow for installation. It wasn’t until our contractors began removing some of the molding that we realized the extent of the damage to the doorway. What started as a job quoted near $9,000 for this first set is now estimated at $15,000. The additional cost is for the removal and re-installing the stain glass window and the additional wood and façade work. As I have mentioned before, these doors are original to the church, and our goal, along with any necessary maintenance, is focused on restoration and preservation, to keep with the historical nature of the church. Once this first set of doors are reinstalled, we will begin the process again with the entrance along Twiggs Street. We will place a temporary set of doors at that entryway, so those using handicap ramp will not have any impact to their access.

In January, new members were added to our Parish Advisory Board. The Advisory Board meets quarterly, and works alongside the Finance, Outreach, and Maintenance Committees in providing leadership and valuable input into our parish life. The board is comprised of eleven parishioners, along with our four friars. The parishioners are all active members who serve in one or more ministries each. The members are as follows: Laura Prather (Chair), Larry Bevis, Cindy Burnett, Sarah Daniels, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Sam Ferlita, Friar Henry Fulmer, OFM, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Fr. Steve Kluge, OFM, Stephen Krist, Helen Lukavec, Lynda Marsh, Tony Miranda, Don Murray, and Felix Vega. I ask that you keep all of them in your prayers as they continue to serve our parish.

Activity up at the North Campus continues to grow, and with it, some income to assist with future upgrades and renovations. We are renting out the auditorium to the diocese on the third Saturday of each month as they host day-long pre-cana retreats for the couples of our greater Catholic community preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. Later this month, our rental agreement for Bonaventure Hall, the campus’ former prekindergarten building, goes into effect, with the developers tasked with redeveloping Robles Park moving in as they begin their work. The money raised will be set aside for future renovations of the North Campus kitchen and auditorium. Funds from our Gala in April will also go toward that project. I hope you all have the opportunity to join us for that special evening.

Peace and all good.
Fr. Mike


Return to Dialogue | Friar Reflections | The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

I do not know if the daytime TV soaps “Days of Our Lives” and “As the World Turns” are still in syndication or producing new episodes, but in terms of titles, I feel as if they were precursors for the current way we see folks communicate and have discourse with one another. As our world turns, we see more and more that any form of communication we have is centered on what we think is important to us alone and no one else.

There are always exceptions to the rule. I am not suggesting this is the way we all interact with our neighbors, even those of whom we disagree with, but I do see this trend creeping into many of our communication channels, and it makes me wonder where the compassion, love and dialogue has gone within our homes, friends, family, not to mention within our own church.

In 2013, while addressing the founder of an Italian publication that often dissented against him, and with the heading, “Letter to the Non-Believers”, Pope Francis wrote, “I would not speak about “absolute” truths, even for believers, in the sense that absolute is that which is disconnected and bereft of all relationship. Truth, according to the Christian faith, is the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship.” The Pope went on to say, “it comes to us always and only as a way and a life.”

How can we come into truth without respect and assistance from one another? It’s easy to cheer along with your favorite team, to rally with a particular party, or to read posts shared by others who hold our same views. It’s easier to speak to those with similar backgrounds than those with which we have nothing in common. It has always been harder to love our enemy. When we write others off as irredeemable, we are missing something—kindness, compassion, and dialogue. We hear many times in scripture how those who were different were treated unfairly and looked down upon. It is Jesus who takes the time to speak and care for them. Why is He doing this, listening to them, and accepting them where their circumstances have brought them at that moment and time?

I feel as though dialogue was once very much welcomed and appreciated. It is a way of stretching one’s ability to see things in a different light. You may remember when there were debate teams in schools. It was very exciting to hear and listen to what was being debated on stage. It brought a sense of openness to the competitors, but it also gave some enlightenment and knowledge to the audience. These used to be the “Days of Our Lives” as the world turned. Dialogue, the common practice within our society, has now shifted to monologue. How are we expected to grow spiritually and mentally if we allow ourselves to be cut off from discourse?

In recent weeks, we’ve seen another uptick in tragic events that usually spark debate. People going out to relax with friends or family and have a good time, and not coming home. Bring back the days of our lives where kids can be kids, and adults can be respectful of each other in dialogue and work together to solve these crisis. I thought we’d always have that opportunity. This week, I hope we all take a small step towards the vision of speaking and listening in love. It is my prayer that we meet each other with respect and use dialogue in a spirit of compassion.

Open our hearts. Lord, and help us to find Christ in one another by dialoging in a spirit of openness.

May the Lord give you Peace,
Friar Henry


Ministries Band together for Local Shelter and Catholic School | Giving From the Heart

In our continued effort to meet the growing needs of the Tampa/Hillsborough County community, Sacred Heart is holding its latest Giving from the Heart drive-through donation event on Saturday, February 11, at the North Campus from 10 a.m. to noon. The February event is an effort of Sacred Heart’s Open Doors and Loving Hearts ministries. Volunteers from Open Doors will be collecting items on behalf of Mercy House, while Loving Hearts will be collecting for their Adopt-A-School beneficiary, St. Joseph Catholic School.

Sacred Heart’s Loving Hearts ministry is proud to continue to provide for the students and families of St. Joseph Catholic School through their Adopt-A-School outreach. Since its founding in 1896, St. Joseph Catholic School has played an important role in educating the children of West Tampa. Many of the families whose children attend St. Joseph’s are underserved in our community and need assistance with some basic needs.

Open Doors is excited to partner with Catholic Charities and their Mercy House shelter for our upcoming drive. Mercy House serves women (either single or with children) with a positive HIV or AIDS diagnosis. The shelter has 12 en suite rooms, housing up to 32 people. The shelter is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with the goal of assisting its residents to become self-sufficient. Clients are supported with meals, clothing, limited case management, transportation, mental health referrals, and life skills classes.

The needed items for both ministries include:

  • Gift cards for grocers, discount stores, or gasoline
  • Non-perishable food items, such as rice, beans, canned vegetables, crackers, peanut butter
  • Toiletries and personal items, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, deodorants, soaps, lotions
  • Household Items & Cleaning Supplies, such as bedding (twin, new or gently used), blankets, pillows, bath towels, laundry & dishwasher detergent, dish soaps, disinfectants
  • DVD and Blu-Ray movies for children and families (new or used)
  • Robes, and indoor/outdoor slippers for women and children

If you have questions about the upcoming drive or would like volunteer at the event, please contact Cindy Burnette with Loving Hearts at, or Don Murray with Open Doors at

Proclaiming the Word | Deacon Reflections | The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter, issued motu proprio, or of his own initiative, Aperuit illis was published on September 30, 2019. As part of the Letter, the pope established that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time was to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.” Today is that Sunday, now known as the Sunday of the Word of God. The timing of the Letter’s publication was significant, as its initial release came on the Feast of Saint Jerome. Saint Jerome translated most of the Bible into Latin, and proclaimed, “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

My assignment and service as a permanent deacon here at Sacred Heart is something that I treasure and thank God for. I am grateful to you, the parishioners here at our dynamic parish, for journeying in faith with me over these past three years. Taking on this new role in my life and my faith has been challenging, but through your prayers and support, I’ve received the grace I’ve needed to continue to serve. Many of you have asked since my appointment, “what does a deacon actually do?” A deacon is ordained for three charisms that help guide his ministry. Word of God Sunday is especially meaningful to a deacon, as proclaiming the Word is one of the charisms in which we are ordained; the others being a minister of the cup and practicing charity for the rest of our lives.

This week is the perfect time to share with you what the charism of proclaiming the Word actually means.

“The deacon participates as an evangelizer and teacher in the Church’s mission of heralding the Word. In the liturgy of the Word, especially in the Eucharist or in those liturgies where he is the presiding minister, the deacon proclaims the Gospel.” (National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and life of Permanent Deacons in the United States.)

When the bishop ordains a deacon, he gives him a Book of Gospels and says, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”  I was profoundly humbled learning when deacons assist at Mass, even if it’s with the pope himself, they are to proclaim the Gospel, and at liturgies in accord with the provisions of Canon Law, they may preach by virtue of ordination.

Deacons are tasked with other designated responsibilities that relate to the Word of God. For example, at the beginning of Mass, the deacon processes with the Book of Gospels raised up in reverence, so all can see. A deacon also participates in specific penitential rites as designated in the Roman Missal. He voices the needs of the people in the General Intercessions, needs which he should have a particular and personal familiarity with from his charism and ministry of charity. During the celebration of the Mass, a deacon helps the faithful participate more fully, extending the invitation of peace, and later dismissing the community at the end of the Eucharistic Liturgy.                    

While these are just a sample of the greater duty set of a deacon, you can see each is related to spreading the Gospel. This is why this Word of God Sunday is near and dear to a deacon’s heart. We are all called to spread the Gospel, and to set the example by living It. As my father used to say to me, “actions speak louder than words.” As any one of us knows, oftentimes it is difficult to stick to that understanding of living the Gospel, but I work toward that each day. Focusing on, and spending time with the Living Word of God will change our hearts, and will enrich not only our own lives, but the lives of all.

Many years ago, I learned an acronym related to the Word…

B.I.B.L.E.: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

May we allow the Lord to inspire, encourage and strengthen us as we follow His instructions through His Word.

Peace of Christ,
Deacon Ray Ferreris
Servant for others


What Is Ours to Do | Friar Reflections | The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

In today’s Gospel according to John (1:29-34), John the Baptist once again makes an appearance. Playing his usual role, he points away from himself and reminds his followers that he is only the forerunner, the one who makes ready and testifies to the One who is coming after him. John the Baptist then highlights the newly baptized Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” since it is He, Jesus, whom the Spirit comes upon and remains.

If there is any lesson to be learned from John it is the call to be humble and to recognize what it is ours to do, and then do it. When I begin to compare myself to others, it is then that I usually become frustrated or depressed. When I begin to compare myself to others, it’s then that I have forgotten that we are all servants of the Lord, through whom God shows His glory (Is. 49:3, 5-6), and that we have all been sanctified in Christ Jesus and are called to be holy (1 Cor. 1:1-3).

Rather than comparing ourselves to one another and making our Christian life some sort of competition, perhaps we should cooperate with and encourage one another in using our blessedness to magnify the presence of the Lord in our own little corner of the world. Making visible the Lord, Jesus Christ is a wonderful way to think about living out our own baptism.

One of the beautiful aspects of our parish is seeing the many ministries that extend into the community, each doing what is theirs to do. All those who are involved in liturgical ministries work together to ensure a smooth flowing and dignified worship experience. Those involved in faith formation seek to pass onto others the faith that speaks to the signs and needs of our times. Our parish is living the admonition of St. Francis when he wrote, “the Lord has shown me what to do, may the Lord show you.” Each in our own way is living our Baptism into Christ, and for that we should all be thankful.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

Our 2023 Catholic Ministry Appeal

Gifts to the Catholic Ministry Appeal support the mission of Jesus Christ, allowing us to bring God’s love and mercy past our parish boundaries through ministries, programs and services provided by our local Church. These gifts are visible through so many of our own parish ministries and their volunteers, whose actions are done in love, both in service of our parish and our community at large. We ask that you join us over these next few weeks in prayerful consideration of this year’s Appeal, as we hear from the lay leaders, staff, and volunteers of our ministries on how you can assist their works, which again, are done in love. 

Ready to make your gift this year? We have many options to choose from, including:

  • Bringing cash or a check (payable to Sacred Heart), and placing it into the special envelopes (located in the back of the church) during our regular offertory.
  • Giving online via Sacred Heart’s GiveCentral portal.
  • Donating directly to the Catholic Ministry Appeal (selecting a ministry of your choice).

We, and the Diocese of St. Petersburg, thank you in advance for your generosity as we work toward our parish goal.

To plan your gift to the 2023 Catholic Ministry Appeal, click here.

Read a letter from Fr. Mike to parishioners, as distributed by the Diocese in support of the appeal.

Knights Walk to Benefit Pregnancy Center

Sacred Heart’s Knights of Columbus Council #12110 will host their third annual Walk for Life on Saturday, February 4 from 8-11 a.m. at the North Campus (3515 N. Florida Ave.).

Money raised will help support the Foundations of Life Pregnancy Center in Tampa, with representatives from the center in attendance. The event will include praying the Rosary as you walk around the track.

* This page will be updated with fundraising information as soon as it is available.

For more information, contact Knights member Josh Kearns at via email.

RAIN or SHINE: If rain impacts the Walk, the duration of the event will move into the North Campus Auditorium.

Our thanks to the Knights and all ministries involved!

The Lessons of the Magi | Friar Reflections | The Epiphany of the Lord

Dear Parishioners,

Epiphany is often seen as the completion of the Christmas story. You’ll notice that our Creche below the altar is now complete with the magi in place, given their scriptural appearance in this weekend’s Gospel. While Epiphany provides a nice bookend to the Christmas season, there are lessons we can learn from the visit of the magi that remain relevant to this day.

Lesson 1: Seek Him:
We need to actively seek out God in our lives. God speaks to us and give us directions. While there may not always be a big sign, like a star, we needn’t expect something huge or unavoidable to hear Him. Rather, we should survey the heavens, and be attentive to God’s whisper and have the courage to act!

Lesson 2: Embrace the Challenge
We should expect that, whatever path God asks us to take, it is going to be challenge for us. I’m pretty sure the magi had a rough time getting across the desert and wilderness to Jerusalem. Often times, the more difficult path is the path God asks us to follow; think Robert Frost and “The Road Not Taken.

Lesson 3: Swim Against the Current
Don’t be too quick to follow the crowd. In God’s way, the crowd is often wrong, and we usually come to our faith as individual children of God. Remember, the magi were a small group, maybe just three. Still, they recognized the birth of the Messiah, while “all Jerusalem” essentially missed it. With God, the minority is often the right place to be. We often need to find our own way.

Lesson 4: Share Yourself with God
Break open the gift of yourself before God. The magi presented the Christ Child with very precious, yet material gifts. We are called to bring to God our very best self. They gave him their treasures, the very best they had. We are called to do likewise. Recognize you own special giftedness and pay homage to God by making the most of what God has blessed you with.

Lesson 5: Return Changed
After meeting the Christ child, the Gospel tells us that the magi “returned to their own country by another way.” More than just geographical, they returned changed, as we should be when we encounter Christ in our lives. When we meet Jesus, we can’t go back the same way as if nothing happened.

. . . . . .

I pray that this celebration of the Epiphany may inspire you to listen carefully for God’s direction in your lives and to boldly set out where He calls. May Jesus in the Eucharist change our lives and set us off on a new way, inspired by the example of the magi. The season of Christmas may be ending, but our journeys towards and with Jesus continues forward!

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Zack

Full of Thanks | Friar Reflections | The Solemnity of B.V. Mary, Mother of God

Dear Parishioners,

Happy New Year! I want to take the time to thank the people who have helped make this Advent and Christmas season a wonderful celebration of who we are at Sacred Heart.

I would like to thank our outreach committee who took charge of helping those stricken by the affects of Hurricane Ian at St. Michael Catholic Church in Wauchula. We had an excellent helping hand from those in our parish and we are so grateful to those who aided in these efforts. Our December Giving from the Heart drive saw 75 cars deliver items of need, the largest number of individual donations we’ve had for those events. Our Giving Tree was also a huge success, with parishioners and several ministries and groups coming together to provide Christmas gifts to the children of St. Michael’s. The delivery to St. Michael’s nearly filled the equivalent of two 10’ U-Haul box trucks. My thanks go out to my brothers friars, the choir, our Knights of Columbus council, Loving Hearts, Open Doors, Secular Franciscans, Social Justice Committee, our conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the outreach committee, and most importantly, our parishioners. Thank you all for your collaboration and determination in collectively assisting our neighbors in need.

We were fortunate to continue our parish’s tradition of the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe a few weeks back. I want to specifically thank Norma & Lazaro Hernandez and Alina & Joaquin Diaz for their continuous support of this event over the years. Out of all the parishes that I have celebrated this feast day, Sacred Heart is my favorite. We also were able to hold evening prayer with the help of our music director, Phil Jakob, and the choir. The choir, along with Phil, and our contemporary ensemble director Sam Corson, did a fabulously across all our Christmas Masses and we thank them for their efforts in aiding to what is always a memorable atmosphere celebrating the Nativity.

I’d also like to thank their families for sharing them with us during the holidays. Additionally, we thank our liturgical ministers, altar servers, the environmental committee, Eucharistic ministers, greeters, readers, and ushers for their hours of service. Thanks also to our faith formation families who produced this year’s Christmas pageant prior to the 4 p.m. Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve. Lauren Young directed the event, and I thank her and the children who participated for keeping this annual tradition active.

When we look behind the scenes, we can truly see all the hard work that our remarkable staff and volunteers do. Each and every one of our staff members and friars have been blessed with talents and we are so fortunate to have them here. When we all work together, our parish does incredible things!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Fr. Mike

Finding What We’re Looking For | Friar Reflections | The Nativity of the Lord

Dear Parishioners,

This Christmas, I find myself thinking back to the Gospel reading we heard on the Third Sunday of Advent (Matthew 11:2-11), pondering at the words used by Jesus asking the people what they were looking for. The questions being “what did you go out to see?” and “why?”…

“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?”

Reflecting on this Advent and Christmas season, I see parents, grandparents, college students, children, and teenagers all living out the call of charity, in not only providing monetary gifts but also gifts of compassion and servitude to those who are in dire need. These people are bringing hope, love, and Christ into the darkness and destitution of those who would not otherwise experience the season as a season of hope or good will.

The seasons of Advent and Christmas are about providing hope and giving of oneself. It’s where the words within the Gospel are truly acted out in real life. It is the time of year when people are more generous, kind, self-sacrificing, and loving towards their neighbors and friends. If you were to ask me what I get out of the season, I would tell you that it’s the peace and good will exhibited and brought forth by the good deeds of every person. We see the Kingdom of God a little more clearly though our active participation in being brothers and sisters to the least among us.

Though this time of year is filled with the busyness and anxiety of fulfilling so many holiday obligations, the season of Advent gifted us the ability to step back and reflect on our lives, while Christmas provides the us greatest gift of all: God sending his Son into the word to share his love and mercy towards all humankind. It is my hope and prayer that we all experience that generosity, love, peace within our homes, family and neighbors during this Christmas season.

Let us Pray:
The feast day of your birth resembles you, Lord
Because it brings joy to all humanity.
Old people and infants alike enjoy your day.
Your day is celebrated
from generation to generation.
Kings and emperors may pass away,
And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse.
But your festival will be remembered until the end of time.
Your day is a means and a pledge of peace.
At your birth heaven and earth were reconciled,
Since you came from heaven to earth on that day
You forgave our sins and wiped away our guilt.
You gave us so many gifts on the day of your birth:
A treasure chest of spiritual medicines for the sick;
Spiritual light for the blind;
The cup of salvation for the thirsty;
The bread of life for the hungry.
In the winter when trees are bare,
You give us the most succulent spiritual fruit.
In the frost when the earth is barren,
You bring new hope to our souls.
In December, when seeds are hidden in the soil,
The staff of life springs forth from the virgin womb.
— St. Ephraim, the Syrian

Peace and All Good, and Merry Christmas,
Friar Henry