Category Archives: Parish News

Order Your Christmas Poinsettias

Remember a loved one during the Christmas season with a poinsettia used to decorate our sanctuary. A long-standing Sacred Heart 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 at the link below. All forms, along with the suggested donation of $15 per plant, must be received by Thursday, December 15.

Click here to download your 2022 Poinsettia order form



Thankful For Where We Are | Friar Reflections | The First Sunday of Advent

Dear Parishioners,

As I sit here in my office reflecting on the end of our liturgical year, the beginning of Advent, and our Thanksgiving celebration, I can’t help but think of gratefulness for where we are today, despite the challenges we have all collectively faced over recent months, and arguably, these last few years. That thought of gratefulness really jumps out when considering our experiences with two hurricanes affecting our area in the last two months, and even more so when you consider the difficulties we all endured during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s hard to believe that more than two years ago, life as we were accustomed to came to a screeching halt. All the things we ordinarily may say we take for granted, like our freedom to move, to travel, to dine-out, visit family or even to visit loved ones in healthcare facilities, it all stopped. I worry about forgetting what happened, the many souls that were lost to COVID, our health care system on the brink of collapse, the shortage of basic household goods, and so much more. I work to remember the isolation that many of us felt, day after day hoping and praying for a cure, or some remedy to aid our struggle. Eventually, we’ve seen some relief and continue to recover. I feel these hardships have had a sincere impact on us all, opening us up to be grateful for life’s simplest and most important necessities.

Our region counted its blessings after being spared the worst of Hurricane Ian, when its path took the storm away from a direct impact on Tampa Bay. Hearing and seeing the devastation of those affected to our south brought an immediate reality to what could have happened to us. I am grateful, not for us all being spared, but for the opportunity our region has had coming together to aid our neighbors. I am excited for our next opportunity to exemplify that gratefulness and togetherness, at next month’s Giving from the Heart drive, where we will support parishes in the Diocese of Venice that are actively aiding in the recovery efforts.

With our country divided on so many fronts, nations in strife and turmoil, and with greater numbers of Americans and people across the globe falling into poverty and despair, we must remember our connections, and remember to be grateful. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon all of God’s blessings in our lives. If we get caught up looking at the all the strife, turmoil, division, and despair, we will slowly lose hope. I am in constant admiration of the people of God who continually give of themselves while surrounded by trying or difficult circumstances.

Whether monetarily, or through their time and talents, aiding those hit by natural disasters, like the hurricanes we recently experienced, assisting in shelters and feeding the homeless. This gives me hope that no matter what any of us are experiencing in life, somehow, we find ways to pull ourselves back together. It is my hope and prayer that as Christians we do not lose our focus on Christ, but that we continue to give thanks from where He’s brought us. That’s reason enough to be thankful.

May we always be grateful to God for all our blessings, great and small. When we start grumbling and complaining about our circumstances, let’s remember to be thankful for those around us: our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.

Peace and All Good,
Friar Henry

Supporting Hurricane Victims at Our Next Giving From the Heart Donation Drive

Sacred Heart is holding its next Giving from the Heart drive through donation event on Saturday, December 10 at the North Campus main lot from 10 a.m. to noon. The December event will feature a collaboration across all ministries of Sacred Heart, as we look to assist the recovery efforts of our neighbors living in the Diocese of Venice, more specifically through St. Michael Catholic Parish of Wauchula and Catholic Charites of the Diocese of Venice.

While many have seen the devastating images of Hurricane Ian’s landfall off the coast of Ft. Myers in late September, many more communities were affected by this Category 4 storm’s path, including our inland neighbors to the south and east of Tampa. The city of Wauchula, especially those living near the Peace River, which borders the eastern portion of the city, experienced record flooding after Ian dumped nearly 20” of rain over portions of Hardee County. St. Michael Catholic Church is a multicultural congregation in Wauchula celebrating liturgies in English, Spanish, and Creole, and currently has over 1,000 registered families. The parish helps operate a food bank, thrift store, and outreach center, and has continued to do so following the hurricane to ensure parishioners and locals have basic necessities.

Catholic Charities: Diocese of Venice has mobilized and operated four disaster relief sites across southwest Florida since Ian’s departure, helping more than 100,000 residents over these last two months, serving more than 20,000 hot meals and distributing more than 2,500 tons of supplies. While the immediate needs of residents in the affected areas begins to stabilize, CCDOV central office manager Helen Rombalski says, “The most pressing need is financial assistance, as we begin to help those starting to rebuild
their lives.”

Below are the needed items to be collected during the drive:

  • Gift cards for grocery and supply stores, gas stations (Walmart, Winn-Dixie, Save-a-lot, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree)
  • Kitchen and bedroom necessities, including pots, pans, dishes, cups, silverware, towels, sheets, blankets, pillows
  • Cleaning supplies, including disinfectant wipes, soap, detergent, sponges (no bleach, please)
  • Toiletries, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, shampoo & conditioner, body wash, bar soap, deodorant, combs, brushes, hair ties, lip balm
  • Baby items, including wipes, disposable diapers and training pants, formula, baby shampoo and wash, clothes, blankets
  • Non-perishable food items, such as rice, beans, canned vegetables, crackers, peanut butter, cereal

We thank you in advance for your generosity and continued support! For more information on how you can assist the Diocese of Venice, click here.

Sharing Our Pain | Friar Reflections | Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Dear Parishioners,

The definition of personal integrity could be living not for reasons which may benefit the individual, but living as to benefit the people one may come in contact with, as well as the world in which one lives. In today’s Gospel, the rulers think they are putting Jesus to the test. If He is the Messiah, the King of the Jews, then He will save himself from crucifixion. And if He does this, His claims will be true. If He refuses to or cannot do this, His claims are false. The rulers motivation and reasoning is carefully captured in a passage from the Book of Wisdom 2:12- 20. I encourage you to take the time to read this passage.

The philosopher, Simone Weil, died very young at the end of the Second World War. She was Jewish, but she loved Christ with a great heart. There is a story that one day a priest watched her as she was gazing on the crucifix in a church and said, “Simone, what do you see when you look at the cross?” She said in reply, “I see God’s apology for all the pain.” What a wonderful understanding: “God’s apology for all the pain.” He could not take away our pain without taking away our freedom, and He created us for freedom, not for slavery. And while He couldn’t take it away, there was only one alternative, to share in our pain. That is why His Son comes down, takes on human flesh, becomes terribly vulnerable, and, in the end, suffers and dies for our sake.

He suffered and we dare to ask, “How could God allow this to happen?” How could God look down and watch His Son destroyed, abandoned, and hated. People going out of their way to show that not only are they going to despise him, but also destroy him. And we continue to ask ourselves, “For what purpose? Why?”

We know the answer from John’s Gospel; “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not die, but may have eternal life.” And even through everything, why the great pain? Why did He have to … Why did it have to be so painful? Weil says, “because on the high hill of Calvary, nobody from the beginning of time to the end of time can say anything but, looking into the eyes of the crucified Messiah we would say, ‘He understands.’ ”

Jesus understands. He understood the repentant thief who took the responsibility for the life he choose to live, was finally able to see the error of his ways, and have the courage to ask Jesus to remember him. The thief regained his integrity. The death of Jesus asks us all to examine our own lives. Even for the thief on the cross alongside Jesus, it was not too late. The integrity of Jesus comes crystal clear.

What Jesus said and did during his brief life on this earth were of one accord. He did not seek out death, but He died a martyr, valuing God’s will more than His own life. He lived and He died teaching and living a nonviolent way of life, holding forgiveness and reconciliation to be absolute values that had to be followed at all costs.

When pressure was brought against Him to abandon those values and use whatever powers He had to protect Himself, He refused to do so. This profound integrity lifts Him above all others and reveals to us a forgiving God who will take to Himself when we have the courage to ask.

That is why Jesus, the Christ, is King. Amen!

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Zack

Repairing and Rebuilding | Friar Reflections | The Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

I was the pastor of St. Francis Parish on Long Beach Island, N.J. during “Superstorm Sandy.” We were told to evacuate the island and to take enough clothes for three days. The Poor Clare Sister’s in Chesterfield, N.J. were gracious enough to give me hospitality, and the rest of the friars and sisters stayed with family and friends. Those three days turned into two months being displaced, as we were unable to return to the island with regularity, except for a few hours one day for a “grab and go” to get more clothes. I was able to get into the main church at that time, which had about three feet of bay water in it. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed not only by the damage, but also by the fact that the people of the parish had been scattered far and wide.

Today’s Gospel according to Luke (21: 5-19) reminds the disciples who are marveling at the costly beauty of the Temple that “there will come a time when there will not be left a stone upon another stone.” To the Jews of His day, this must have been shocking since the Temple was the center of their worship.

If the center was gone, what was to become of them? Jesus warns them of the persecution by the authorities and even more shocking, “by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.” Despite it all, Jesus reminds them that He, through the Holy Spirit, will guide them and “not a hair of (their) head will be destroyed” if only they persevere.

Talking to visitors after mass, many people comment on the physical beauty of our church. I tell them that even more beautiful are the people who fill the pews, our parishioners. The church is not simply the building. Rather the Church is all of us: the People of God whom God calls to gather together in the church building to worship, to seek forgiveness, to be nourished through our fellowship with one another, the Word, and the Eucharist, so as to be sent back into the world to live the Good News of Christ’s never ending love for us. As that wonderful hymn says, “How beautiful is the Body of Christ”!

As we quickly come to the end of this liturgical year, let’s look back and see how Christ has repaired and continued to rebuild each of us as individuals and as a community of faith. Let’s also look forward to the coming liturgical year with great expectations for what Christ, through His indwelling Holy Spirit will do in and through us for our parish and the wider community. Let us persevere in faith but let us persevere TOGETHER.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

P. S. When all was said and done, St. Francis Church was renovated and continues to be a beacon of Christ’s love and grace on Long Beach Island.

A Busy Time for Our Parish | Friar Reflections | The Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

With so many events and initiatives within the parish currently underway or in the planning stages, be them advanced or preliminary, I’d like to provide you with some updates to our progress:

– I would like to thank everyone who joined us for our Fall Festival last weekend, and a express a special thanks to Angela Erb, our Event Coordinator, her event planning committee, and all the volunteers who assisted her. I think she and her team did a tremendous job in organizing and coordinating this event.

View Photos from the Fall Festival Here

It was wonderful to see our parishioners able to take part in this gathering again, after the COVID induced pause of these last couple years. The turn out was truly amazing. There are too many volunteers to name individually who helped make this happen and I truly appreciate the time, talent and treasure that they give to our parish. Events like this are only able to happen because of the volunteers willing to help. On behalf of the parish
and staff, I thank you!

Richard and Cindy Burnette (left), alongside Bishop Gregory Parkes (center), and Fr. Mike Jones, OFM (right) at the 2022 DOSP St. Jude Medal Ceremony on Sunday, October 30.

– Also happening last Sunday, over at the Cathedral of St. Jude in St. Petersburg, I had the pleasure of joining parishioners Richard and Cindy Burnette as they received the St. Jude the Apostle Medal from Bishop Parkes for extraordinary service to our parish. It was great to see these two being recognized by the diocese for their years of volunteerism and self-giving in support of our parish’s liturgical ministries, faith formation classes, connection to Love INC, and various committees.

– Up at the North Campus, we have had some unforeseen expenses crop up. A new roof was recently installed on Bonaventure Hall, formerly the pre-k building when the school was open. The replacement was not necessitated by any damage from Hurricane Ian, but rather the age, which lead to leaks. The cost to replace the roof was about $18,000. We were fortunate to get this repair done quickly, as many roofers would not even schedule a meeting for a quote, due to the hurricane and the sudden need of roofers and supplies. This expense will impact our budget for this year. We will be renting Bonaventure Hall out to the construction firm that is overseeing the New Robles Park Village redevelopment. The income from this rental will go toward the future renovation of the North Campus’ kitchen.

– The first set of doors in the front of the church are taking a little longer in the restoration process then anticipated, but they are moving along. As I mentioned previously, once the first set are done, we will start on the northern-most set. Keep in mind these doors are original to the building, and are 117 years old. The cost of the door restorations will be just above $34,000. When you have historic buildings, as we do, you will always have repairs going on. The cost of these repairs are covered by your generous donations and our offertory. Everyone loves the beauty of our church and North Campus. If you are able, please consider increasing your weekly donations to help with the restoration, upkeep, and preservation.

– The staff have begun plans to bring back yet another Sacred Heart staple event, and we are excited to announce a date as well. The annual Gala which will return in 2023, taking place on the Yacht Starship on Friday, April 14. This principle fundraising event will also have its proceeds directed toward the renovation of the kitchen at the North Campus. While additional details will be not be released until the new year, I wanted to ensure that parishioners had the opportunity to save the date.

– Each year, before the 4 p.m. Mass on Christmas Eve, our parish hosts a Christmas pageant centered around the Nativity of Our Lord. The pageant is always enthusiastically received, and something our families and visitors look forward to each year. To keep the tradition going, we are looking for some adult volunteers and children to help with this year’s pageant. General requirements include attendance to one rehearsal, and then being present for the 4 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass. To volunteer. please contact Maria Giral.

Pope Francis tweeted in 2013 that “Holiness doesn’t mean doing extraordinary things, but doing ordinary things with love and faith.” We’re certainly seeing that energy within our parish life, and again, I thank you all for your dedication to providing that loving and faith-filled atmosphere.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Our 2022 St. Jude Award Recipients | Cindy & Richard Burnette

Commissioned by Bishop Emeritus Robert Lynch in 1999, the St. Jude the Apostle Medal is given each year by the Diocese of St. Petersburg as a way to recognize parishioners who show outstanding service to their respective parishes. At a ceremony on Sunday, October 30, held at the Cathedral of St. Jude at 3 p.m., parishioners Cindy and Richard Burnette will receive this year’s distinction.

Cindy (Left) and Richard (far right) assisting members from our Knights of Columbus at a recent Giving From the Heart Donation Drive.

Registered and participating at Sacred Heart for the better part of a decade, Cindy and Richard continuously give of their time and talents, rarely missing an event or opportunity to volunteer. Cindy and Richard began assisting with Faith Formation in 2015, before later becoming catechists, a role which Cindy serves in to this day. The pair are regularly seen as volunteers and contributors for many other liturgical and outreach ministries at Sacred Heart, serving as eucharistic ministers, participating in our Giving From the Heart donation drives, and serving on parish committees.

Fr. Mike (left) with Cindy Burnette (right) following her LPMI commissioning ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Jude in St. Petersburg.

Following her completion of the Lay Pastoral Ministry Institute earlier this year, which trains laity for leadership roles within the diocese, Cindy partnered with fellow parishioner and Love INC of Metro Tampa co-founder Ann Doyle to create a new ministry within Sacred Heart dedicated to our parish connection to the non-profit.

The new Loving Hearts in the Name of Christ ministry also works alongside Love INC in their mission is to mobilize local Christian churches and their members to provide many forms of aid through outreach volunteer service. “Cindy and Richard embody what it means to humbly be in service to those in our community who deserve it most,” says Evan Smith, Love INC of Metro Tampa’s executive director. “They are always dependable when called to serve. Praise God for their hearts!”

Cindy and Richard’s spirit of generous self-giving is an example to the parishioners and staff of the Franciscan community here at Sacred Heart. Thank you both for your tireless efforts, and congratulations on receiving this year’s award. Parishioners can view the ceremony live at


Shepherd Others with Love | Friar Reflections | The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

This October marks the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s landmark reforms in the Catholic Church’s relationship to the world around it and the church’s own liturgy and practices.

In 1962, the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, known as the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II was held. The council meeting took place in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and was split into four periods of 8-12 weeks occurring each autumn over the four year spell from 1962-1965. The preparations for the council took three years itself, from 1959 to the autumn of 1962.

Pope John XXIII called for the council because he felt the Church needed “updating.” To better connect with people in a modern, secularized world, he sought to improve some of the church’s practices, and present its teaching in a way that would be relevant and understandable for the generations to follow.

It’s fitting that our Church has gathered in its largest synodal process to date near this anniversary. In the synodal process, we’re given the opportunity of reassessing our relationship with our fellow Christian communities, other religions, laity, youth, the LGBTQ community and other movements led by the Spirit.

Just like Vatican II, there are some participants who were sympathetic to this reassessment, while others saw no need for change, resisting efforts in that direction. Pope Francis lamented of how “we prefer to choose sides in the church,” instead of being servants. We look at things as if in binary, right or wrong, one side or the other, rather than being Christ-like to each other.

Although Vatican II altered the Church’s relationship with the world and took on a more open posture, Pope Francis challenges us to be on guard against “worldliness,” saying “We are called to respond to this worldly astuteness with Christian astuteness, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.” Pope Francis continues to call us to evangelization and prioritizing the needs of the poor and care of creation, saying “You are not here to shepherd yourselves, but all others, with love.”

At the conclusion of a recent Mass, Pope Francis showed his support for Vatican II, and urged those in attendance to be united and not allow polarization to become a divisive tool. I agree. We must allow the Holy Spirit to set our hearts on fire for the love of Christ. We are each called to examine ourselves and reflect upon the mission and nature of the Church; “What I have done for you, you must do for others.”

Peace and all good,
Friar Henry

Do Not Grow Weary | Friar Reflections | The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

In today’s Gospel according to Luke (18:1-8), Jesus tells the story of a judge “who neither feared God nor respected any human being” confronted by a persistent widow. At the start of the Gospel, in a very unusual turn, Luke has Jesus telling us the point of the parable: “pray always without becoming weary.”

This theme goes well with the first reading from the Book of Exodus (17:8-13) in which Moses does become weary in his prayer so that Aaron and Hur “supported his (raised up) hands, so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” One of the great blessings in my life as a Franciscan is that our fraternity gathers twice-a-day, morning and evening, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as a community. I start my day at 4 a.m., during which I drink two cups of coffee, and spend an hour reading Scripture, praying with some devotionals, and reading the Gospel of the day. All of this so that I can prepare a daily homily or work on my homily for Sunday. My alone time with God is important to me, but after all of this, to be honest, sometimes I don’t feel like praying together with my brothers.

But I do. I think the first reading shows us the need for, and the benefit of having, a support circle so that we don’t so easily walk away from our time with God. I need the witness of my brothers to help sustain me when the temptation is to not pray. And I would hope that they in some small way see my presence at our communal prayer as a help to them. All of this praying during the week helps me to better celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, the great communal prayer of the Church.

That’s the outline of how my prayer life is lived. But what of yours? So often in confession people say that they have neglected prayer. I gently ask them what their ideal prayer life would look like, and most of the time they give a description that closely resembles mine: a lot of time spent in relative quiet.

I say to them that may be an unrealistic expectation. Instead, I encourage them to salt their day with short prayers.

  • THANKS: Meister Eckhart, a 14th century German theologian wrote, “If the only prayer a person prays is ‘thank you,’ that is enough”
  • WOW or HELP: At the end of the day, before going to sleep, review the day and discover the blessings for which they are thankful, and for the things they regret, ask forgiveness.

No matter how we pray, the important thing is that we keep praying. Especially during the week as this will help prepare you for Sunday liturgy. Never give up on prayer. But be warned! Over time, prayer will change us more and more into the image of Christ.

Peace and all good,
Fr. Steve

Sacred Heart Announces Return Of Fall Festival, October 30

Celebrate the harvest season with some fun, food, and fellowship with the return of our parish’s Fall Festival, on Sunday October 30, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the North Campus.

Join nearly a dozen of our parish’s ministries as they serve up a potluck meal and cake-walk, alongside live music and outdoor games. Family fun includes face painting, arts & crafts, a petting zoo, and a bike rodeo sponsored by the Tampa Police Department. TPD officers will also participate in a trunk-or-treat in the ellipse. Children are encouraged to come in costume or dress as their favorite saint for the trunk-or-treat.

Schedule of Events:

11:45 a.m.Opening Prayer (Auditorium)
NoonTampa Police Bike Rodeo (Track)
1 & 2 p.m. – Cake Walk (Auditorium)
2:30 p.m.50/50 Raffle

Ongoing Throughout:

Trunk-or-Treat (Ellipse)
Petting Zoo (Grounds)
Live Music (Auditorium)
Arts & Crafts (Auditorium)
Face Painting (Auditorium)
Games & Activities (Sport Courts)

Additional information will be posted as the planning continues. We hope to see you there!

View the Map for our Fall Festival

Join the Committee: The Parish Event Planning Committee will meet Thursday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the North Campus Auditorium to continue preparations for the Festival. If you wish to volunteer for the Fall Festival, or become a member of the Event Planning Committee, email Angela Erb.

Volunteers Needed: Volunteers are needed to assist with the outdoor activities and many other elements of the event. Interested parishioners can sign up for a specific role at the sign-up sheets in the rear of the church after Mass, or by clicking the buttons here.

Volunteer Sign-Up:Sign Up!
Baked Goods Sign-Up:Sign Up!
Potluck  Sign-Up:Sign Up!