Category Archives: From the Desk of the Pastor

Updates about volunteering, projects, ministries, and maintenance at Sacred Heart from the Pastor.

Rolling Back the Stone | From the Desk of the Pastor | April 2024

Sisters and brothers,

On Easter Sunday we heard a passage from the Gospel of Mark (16:2-4), stating “Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large.”

Pope Francis in his Easter Vigil address this year talked about the stone. He stated:

  • “There are times when we may feel that a great stone blocks the door of our hearts, stifling life, extinguishing hope, imprisoning us in the tomb of our fears and regrets, and standing in the way of joy and hope. We encounter such “tombstones” on our journey through life in all the experiences and situations that rob us of enthusiasm and of the strength to persevere. We encounter them at times of sorrow: in the emptiness left by the death of our loved ones, in the failures and fears that hold us back from accomplishing the good we mean to do. We encounter them in all the forms of self-absorption that stifle our impulses to generosity and sincere love, in the rubber walls of selfishness and indifference that hold us back in the effort to build more just and humane cities and societies, in all our aspirations for peace that are shattered by cruel hatred and the brutality of war. When we experience these disappointments, do we also have the sensation that all these dreams are doomed to failure, and that we too should ask ourselves in anguish: “Who will roll away the stone from the tomb?”

    Yet the same women who bore this darkness in their hearts tell us something quite extraordinary. When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. This is the Pasch of Christ, the revelation of God’s power: the victory of life over death, the triumph of light over darkness, the rebirth of hope amid the ruins of failure. It is the Lord, the God of the impossible, who rolled away the stone forever. Even now, he opens our tombs, so that hope may be born ever anew. We too, then, should “look up” to him.”

Last weekend we saw the evidence of that stone rolled back for us in our celebration of the Triduum and Easter Sunday. Many ministries came together to help with the planning and organization of these celebrations alongside those who volunteered and served at all the services. A lot of that heavy lifting was accomplished by our Liturgical Advisory Committee, our Faith Formation staff and catechists, the Environment Committee, our altar servers, ushers, readers, Eucharistic Ministers, cantors, and choir. It’s also important to recognize the ministries we don’t always see in action, that play a pivotal roll in the background, including those who clean the altar linens, the money counters, and the parish staff who go above and beyond to ensure the success of these liturgies. Our parish’s outreach and social ministries also played a role in the Triduum. At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, members from the Open Doors ministry prepared the altar. The basket of food presented during the Preparation of the Gifts was collected by our St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteers in March.

We often focus on being “trapped in the tomb.” That wasn’t the case this Easter. A group of twelve came into the Church at the Vigil. Over the past year they each shared their story of how the stone was rolled away for them as they came into their faith in Christ. On Easter Sunday, nearly 4,000 came to our parish to celebrate their faith in the Risen Lord. It is the witness of all these people who encourage all of us to continue on in our own faith.

I want to thank everyone who assisted us over these past weeks in creating these prayerful and faith-filled celebrations. Pope Francis at the Easter Vigil this year concluded by saying, “In the darkness, let an unexpected shout of joy resound: He is alive; he is risen! And you, my brothers and sisters, small and great … you who are weary of life, who feel unworthy to sing… let a new flame be kindled in your heart, let new vitality be heard in your voice. It is the Pasch of the Lord; it is the feast of the living.” Our parish is alive with the faith of the Risen Lord.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Walking Hand in Hand | From the Desk of the Pastor | March 2024

O, Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Your infinite wisdom and love,
You remind us that we are the Body of Christ;

many parts, one body, united in our faith in Jesus Christ.

We humbly come before You, seeking unity within our parish
and ask You to strengthen and sustain all those who volunteer in our parish.

Empower us, O God, to set aside our differences and to come together,
we focus on the mission and vision You have set before us.

As we walk hand in hand, let our unity serve as a beacon of hope to the world,
a testimony of Your love and a reflection of Your divine grace.

Oh God, we trust in Your guidance and ask that You unite us in our mission,
as we continue to spread Your word and serve Your people.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Dear Parishioners,

On Ash Wednesday we handed out a prayer card with our Parish Ministry Prayer (above) on it for people to pray a prayer of mission and unity throughout the season of Lent. As we pray, it is a reminder that we are not alone, we have God and one another and it is that oneness that we celebrate at the Eucharist every week. 

This weekend, we had an outreach ministry retreat where everyone was invited to attend. The theme of the retreat was “We are the Body of Christ; Many Parts, One Body.”  The theme was a reminder to us of all the many ministries here at Sacred Heart, yet we are one parish. 

Our parish advisory board last year introduced new mission, vision, and value statements.  These statements aid parish leadership in the development of priorities for the parish and specifically the North Campus property. These statements can also help ministries define themselves and how they can contribute to the greater parish vision.

Parish Mission StatementTo cultivate a vibrant community of faith by creating meaningful connections with both God and each other.

Parish Vision Statement: To be the faith-filled heartbeat of Tampa, welcoming one another, supporting each other, and modeling Christ’s love to all those we meet.

Parish Value Statements:

1. We are a joyful, loving, and vibrant Body of Christ, finding inspiration in our diversity and delight in our parish friends and family. (Franciscan Value: appreciation for beauty, reverence for all creation)

2. We are welcoming, approachable, kind, and inclusive – not only to those within our walls, but also to those who live along the margins. (Franciscan Value: affirmation of the unique worth of each person)

3. We are passionately compassionate and generous with our means – intentional in our service, driven in our actions, and devoted to our social responsibilities. (Franciscan Value: service to the poor and marginalized)

4. We are proudly Franciscan in spirit, embracing our unique heritage and the traditions passed down through generations before us, yet always striving to change and evolve. We’re never done with our work or ready to give up. (Franciscan Value: faith in a personal and provident God)

Long-time parishioner and the executive director of the nearby Franciscan Center, Brian Lemoi, led our ministry retreat this weekend. During the session, he discussed an excerpt from the non-profit organization, Renew International, known for creating programs like Theology on Tap, which connect faith and life:

“Act with intentionality. Intentionality means doing things with a purpose and a plan. We as Church can be intentional about ‘our ministries’ by doing the following:

  • building a spirit of hospitality into our plans (for our parish volunteers and recipients of our ministry services)
  • ensuring that all parishioners understand the plan and their roles in it.

In looking at that statement, the parish advisory board has and will continue to purposely plan for the future of Sacred Heart and we will find ways to share that plan with the various ministries and parishioners. Lemoi ended that excerpt with “taking the time to plan assures that our good intentions are carried out.”

The parish advisory board members are: Larry Bevis, Cindy Burnette, Sarah Daniels, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Sam Ferlita, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Stephen Krist, Helen Lukavec, Lynda Marsh, Tony Miranda, Laura Prather (chair), and Felix Vega (meets quarterly).

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike Jones, OFM

Setting the Example | From the Desk of the Pastor | February 2024

Dear Parishioners,

In the Mirror Of Perfection, Brother Leo of Assisi, recounts what St. Francis of Assisi considered to be the best example of a friar:

“A good Friar Minor should imitate the lives and possess the merits of these holy friars: the perfect faith and love of poverty of Brother Bernard; the simplicity and purity of Brother Leo, who was a man of most holy purity; the courtesy of Brother Angelo, who was the first nobleman to enter the Order, and was endowed with all courtesy and kindness; the gracious look and natural good sense of Brother Masseo, together with his noble and devout eloquence; the mind upraised to God, possessed in its highest perfection by Brother Giles; the virtuous and constant prayer of Brother Rufino, who prayed without ceasing, and whose mind was ever fixed on God, whether sleeping or working; the patience of Brother Juniper, who attained the state of perfect patience because he kept the truth of his low estate constantly in mind whose supreme desire was to follow Christ on the way of the Cross; the bodily and spiritual courage of Brother John of Lauds, who in his time had been physically stronger than all men; the charity of Brother Roger, whose whole life and conversation was inspired by fervent charity; the caution of Brother Lucidus, who was unwilling to remain in any place longer than a month, for when he began to like a place, he would at once leave it, saying, Our home is not here, but in heaven.”

For Francis, ‘the perfect friar’ is when all the friars come together and live the Gospel as one. Each friar brings their gifts and talents together to work as one. I would contend that same attitude can be applied when we look at our individual parishioners, and the congregation as a whole. Instead of listing the various gifts of certain friars, we could easily substitute the characteristics, gifts, and talents from one of our parishioners. Ultimately, ‘the perfect parishioner’ is when we all come together as one as we live out our faith through the ministries we do as a parish. In addition to the opportunities our parish currently has to combine efforts and talents, such as our support for the Catholic Ministry Appeal, and our next Giving from the Heart donation drive, I would like to invite you to an upcoming half-day retreat focused on this collective principle.

On Saturday, March 2, the Outreach Committee will be sponsoring a Lenten retreat with the theme, “We are the Body of Christ; Many Parts, One Body.”  This retreat will be open to all ministers of our parish, as well as any parishioner who might be interested in attending. Leaders and volunteers associated with Faith Formation, Outreach, Parish Leadership, Parish Life & Worship are all encouraged to attend. Brian Lemoi, the executive director of the Franciscan Center, will facilitate the retreat.

The retreat’s theme will tie directly into our parish mission vision, and value statements. Our goals for the day are as follows:

  • Meeting other parishioners who are involved in ministry.
  • Best practices for successful ministry
  • Collaboration of ministries
  • Ways to invite and recruit volunteers

That collective theme is at the heart of this year’s Catholic Ministry Appeal. The diocese is at its best when all the parishes come together to courageously live the Gospel. The Catholic Ministry Appeal is a way in which all parishes come together as one to help support the various programs of the diocese. I would ask that this weekend you prayerfully think about making a gift. No gift is to small.  Last year we made more than 90% of our goal, doubling what we had done the previous year. We also increased our participation rate to 23%. As always, I thank you for the support you give to our parish and to the diocese.

Our parish mission statement is “to cultivate a vibrant community of faith by creating meaningful connections with both God and each other.”  We accomplish this by coming together and sharing our faith with one another.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

The Start of a New Year | From the Desk of the Pastor | The Epiphany of the Lord

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus said “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Many of you over this Christmas season followed suit. Our parish is very fortunate to have dedicated people willing to give of themselves for the sake of others. I want to thank all those who helped make this Christmas season a wonderful celebration of who we are at Sacred Heart Parish.

This Christmas, we commemorated the 800-year anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi’s rule and first crèche by handing out 800 nativity ornaments at various outreach events and through telling the story of Francis’ Christmastime tradition as part of the Children’s Program on Christmas Eve. The program is something parishioners and visitors alike enjoy watching, and all of the children did such a great job. Laureen Young directed the program, and the friars and I thank her for helping make this possible again this year.

With Christmas falling on a Monday, it meant celebrating 13 Masses in less than 48 hours. This feat was only possible through the many willing to help when and where it was needed. Each Mass and event turned out wonderfully and I would like to thank our Environmental Committee, altar servers, Eucharistic Ministers, readers, and ushers, many of whom assisted across multiple Masses. Also assisting were our Gift Store volunteers, collection counters, the docents of our Historical Society, the volunteers who clean the altar linens, and our staff, who were always willing to jump in and help.

Both on Christmas Eve and Christmas, I was approached by several of our local homeless who wanted to donate to the church. An older gentleman came to me saying he had received a generous gift, and wanted to give a portion to the church. I insisted that he needed to keep it, but he was adamant he wanted to give to Sacred Heart because of the good we do. A young woman on Christmas Day insisted on a donation to our church because she heard the church is in need of some expensive repairs and wanted to help. Throughout the weekend you could witness many of the homeless sharing among themselves. It is a reminder that they are also our parishioners and part of our community.

Over these next two months our parochial campaign as part of the 2024 Catholic Ministry Appeal (CMA) will be rolled out. The response in 2023 was incredible, as parishioner participation grew by more than 10% year over year, increasing from 13% in 2022, to more than 23%. This increase in participation lead us to collecting more than double the amount we had collected from the previous year, amounting to 88% of our goal. Our targets for 2024 remain focused on increasing our participation rate while reaching our goal. My mother always said many hands make light work. The friars have already been discussing our gift to the CMA and we plan on giving at the start of the appeal.

This weekend we celebrate the Epiphany. As the Magi journeyed to find the Christ Child, it reminds us of our own journey of faith. Our journey never ends, but leads us closer to God. The journey is never the same and we travel on different paths to find God. Some paths are easy to travel while others are fraught with hardship, however the end is the same: God’s love. Pope Francis is asking that 2024 be a year of prayer before the Jubilee year in 2025. May our prayers this year help us to find the right path that will lead us closer to God.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Maintaining Our Parish | From the Desk of the Pastor | December 2023

Dear Parishioners,

As we come the end of 2023, I felt it would be important to update you on the various maintenance and preservation projects completed in the church and at the North Campus, while also informing you of upcoming repairs to the church that will need to be done in the new year. The upcoming repairs to the church cannot be put off, and stand to cost nearly $200,000.

Recent repairs for the Church

New Carpeting                                                  $37,000
Glass Enclosure – Reconciliation Room  $8,800
New Sacristy Closets                                       $24,000
1st Set of Doors – Repair & Refinish            $18,000
Fixing leaks to the side of the building    $6,000

Recent Repairs for the North Campus

Replace Light Fixtures (Alumni Hall)           $ 2,635
Replace A/C Units (Auditorium)                     $24,000
Replace Light Fixtures (Auditorium)            $7,500
Termite Treatment (Auditorium)                   $4,500
New Roof (St. Bonaventure Building)          $18,900
New Lighting (St. Bonaventure Building)   $3,500
Restoring Electric (St. Bonaventure Building)  $6,500
New Roof (School Building)                              $59,000

The figures you see here do not reflect the day-to-day cost of caring for these two properties. One of our biggest expenses is plumbing. The pipes in the church are old, while at the North Campus, some pipes are broken. Repairs to air conditioning units are also an issue. The Maintenance Committee does have a budget to replace units and there are a few more at the North Campus that will have to be replaced soon.

Upcoming Projects at the Church

Starting early next year, we will address a number of maintenance and preservation projects related to the front of the church, beginning with the cross at the top of the front façade. You may have noticed over the course of the last year or so, that it has begun to lean. At this point, we do not know how stable it is, and if it were to fall, what damage it might cause. It has become a liability that needs to be repaired. The front façade’s rose window, facing Florida Avenue, also must be repaired. Leaks are causing the window to sag and water damage to seep inside the front wall of the church. It will need to be reglazed to prevent the glass from falling out. The contractor will be repointing and resealing the window, and given the scale and need for these two projects, along with the presence of scaffolding to accomplish them, the decision to have the front façade cleaned and repointed has also been made. 

The hope is for each project to be accomplished concurrently, alongside the to restoration of the remaining doorways. As I have mentioned in the past, each set of doors are original to the church, but have been weathered over time. In some areas, sunlight can be seen through cracks in the wood. These projects will be intrusive, with the presence of the scaffolding and temporary plywood coverings for entryways. Those celebrating weddings during the duration of the projects will be informed in advance, as a courtesy, to have time to take photos in front of the church before they begin.

The parish will have to use money from both our operating funds and savings to cover the cost. At our most recent Parish Finance Committee meeting, we discussed a shortfall from our FY23/24 first quarter collections, down ~$18,000 from last year. Positively, Mass attendance for that same period is up by more than 2,000. Our parish is dependent on the stewardship and generosity of its parishioners. The friars and parish leadership would ask that if you are able to make an additional gift to the church, it would go a long way to ensuring the expedient completion of these projects. I would also ask visitors to consider making a gift to Sacred Heart to assist with the repairs. The beauty of our church draws people from all over to pray and celebrate Mass with us. We are only able to maintain the beauty of this historic building with your donations. You can make your gift today at this link.

North Campus Update

The Maintenance and Finance Committees, as well as the Parish Advisory Board are all in agreement on the current direction to renovate the kitchen as the next major project at the North Campus. Most often used by Hands of Hope, which serves the homeless each weekend, we see the renovation as a chance to expand their reach and function, in addition to future use opportunities for wedding receptions and parish dinners. The ball is already rolling, as a firm has been hired to serve as our owner’s representative, tasked with securing the various trades needed to renovate the kitchen. The renovation would require new plumbing and electric. All existing equipment would also need to be replaced. Additionally, since there is no air conditioning in the kitchen, this too would require the installation of a new system. Rough estimates see the renovation costing between $750,000 to $1,000,000 to complete. A fundraiser would be launched to raise the money, but, once completed, the potential for income would help offset maintenance costs, with the auditorium’s potential to host corporate meetings, weddings, and the like given a fully functioning kitchen.

The main school building and Alumni Hall remain in usable condition and can be upgraded in the future, though we must consider bathroom upgrades for the school. We are currently renting the St. Bonaventure building (former Pre-K building, located between the school and cafeteria) to the engineering and planning firms redeveloping Robles Park Village directly to the North Campus’ north and east. Many parishioners regularly contribute to our True North campaign, and some money has already been allocated for this kitchen project to begin, but we are still far from our goal. Any gifts would be greatly appreciated and would quicken our goal for a new kitchen. Those looking to contribute can do so here, by selecting the “True North/Campus” tab.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Fall Updates | From the Desk of the Pastor

Dear Parishioners,

I would like to thank all of our volunteers and staff for helping put on a very successful Fall Festival last Sunday. It was so nice to see so many of our parishioners come out and participate in our parish life. When several of our volunteers were informed that we were in the middle of an additional transition for our event coordination position, they quickly stepped up to aid in planning and execution. Building on last year’s event, we added a few new elements, including a chili cook-off, bike rally, and quilt raffle. Each gave parishioners a chance to win some great prizes for participating, but also allowed for sharing their God-given talents.   Speaking of talent, Fr. Steve and I participated in the Bike Rally, but we were not the quickest. In our defense, it is hard to ride a bike while wearing a habit.

A few weeks prior to the festival, we were able to again fill the vacant event, hospitality and outreach manager position, with parishioner Vicky McCarthy stepping into the role. I told her not to panic too much about the festival because I knew our wonderful volunteers had it under control. Vicky was there on Sunday helping and taking notes, already thinking of what we can do next year.

Last Sunday was busy enough with Masses and the festival, but I was called to spend the second half of the day in St. Petersburg at the Cathedral, and for a great reason. Tony Miranda, a parishioner here at Sacred Heart since 2017, was selected to receive our parish’s St. Jude Medal for 2023. The St. Jude medal is awarded annually to individuals and couples from each diocesan parish and mission for outstanding service to their communities. Tony is an amazing volunteer who helps where ever he is needed. Every Saturday, Tony works with Hands of Hope preparing and serving food to the homeless, while also serving as an active member of the Knights of Columbus, and our Parish Advisory, Outreach, and Maintenance Committees. Sunday was also a busy one for Tony as he volunteered at the festival for several hours before making the trek to the Cathedral to receive his award at the prayer service with Bishop Parkes.

Lastly, I’d like to thank all of our parishioners on behalf of the Outreach Committee for making our first Socktober drive a very successful one. In planning, we set a goal that we felt would not only be achievable, but one that directly reflected the homeless that we intended to serve within our community. The annual average population of those considered homeless in Hillsborough County is 1,600, so we set that number as the goal. That simple message must have created a spark, because we pushed well past goal by the end of the drive. A conservative count, not including any last minute donations, saw parishioners donate 4,325 pairs of socks. Many of you will remember that the Behavioral Resource Unit of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, who directly interact with the homeless of our area, offered to match donations for the last two weekends of October. That match will result in an additional 2,529 pairs of socks, bringing our drive’s total to 6,854 pairs. Collected socks are already in the hands of our partners at Tampa Hope, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and our Hands of Hope ministry. When you are homeless, a simple thing such as clean, dry socks can make a difference. I’ve been a part of Socktober drives in several of my previous parishes, and it has always been very successful. Again, I thank all of you for your generosity, and look forward to holding this drive again in the future.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Embodying St. Francis | From the Desk of the Pastor | Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

This week we begin our celebration of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order. On Tuesday, October 3, we will celebrate the Transitus of Our Holy Father Francis, a prayer service which remembers the passing of St. Francis, followed by a reception in St. Francis Hall. All are welcome!

Before his death, Francis asked that a letter be sent to Rome to his friend and benefactor, Lady Jacoba of Settesoli, to inform her that his death was approaching. The two had met when he had been preaching in Rome, where Francis would stay with her and her family. Lady Jacoba would later join the Third Order of the Franciscans, or Seculars as they are now called. The stories say she would often bring Francis food that he enjoyed. One such treat was an almond cookie. Many friar communities bake almond pastries as part of their Transitus and Feast Day celebrations. Ten years ago today, the staff at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Boston shared this recipe:

St. Francis’ Almond Cookies

1 ¾ cups whole almonds
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup sliced almonds

Toast almonds in 300° oven for five (5) minutes, then cool. Place almonds in food processor with sugar, flour, and salt. Process until finely ground. Add and process egg whites and extract. Drop by teaspoonfuls on parchment covered baking sheet 1” apart. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.  Bake at 300° for 25 minutes. Yields four (4) dozen.

This Wednesday, October 4, we will celebrate the Solemnity of St. Francis of Assisi at the 7 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. Masses with musical accompaniment at the 12:10 Mass. With Sacred Heart being a Franciscan parish, this feast day is elevated to a Solemnity. Finally, this Friday, October 6, we will be joining the Franciscan Center for the Blessing of the Animals. Details for each of these liturgies and events are in this weekend’s bulletin, and online at

I think the best way to truly celebrate St. Francis is by imitating his example of taking care of the poor. Our parish will have several opportunities to embody that example throughout the month of October, as we feature two drives dedicated to those efforts. The parish will participate in Socktober,  where we will collect new socks all month long to be given to the homeless through three of our partner ministries. Drop boxes will be present in the back of the church, as well as the Gift and Book Store. We will also host our next Giving from the Heart drive on Saturday, October 14, at the North Campus, collecting items for Hands of Hope and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Again, details for each of these specific initiatives are available in this bulletin.

Last Friday, we were notified that the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of St. Petersburg awarded a Fall 2023 Community Impact Grant to one of our newest ministries, Bikes from the Heart. Our application successfully demonstrated that Bikes from the Heart meets their mission to courageously live the Gospel by serving Christ by serving others. Learn more about the ministry at Congratulations to the group on this award!

All of these good works help us to follow the example of St. Francis. St. Francis lived his life following in the footprints of Jesus. His Rule of life was the Gospel. He recognized God in all things and people. St. Francis continues to inspire many to follow his example. For those men entering the Franciscan Order:

The Rule and life of the Friars Minor is this,
namely, to observe the holy Gospel
of our Lord Jesus Christ
by living in-obedience, without property and in chastity.

May our brother who promised to observe all this
be filled in heaven with the blessing of the most high Father.


Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Community of Connections | From the Desk of the Pastor

Dear Parishioners,

Just over a week ago, on Thursday, August 24, we held a meeting of all parish ministries at the North Campus. Among the 50-plus in attendance were members from our parish leadership committees, staff, ministry leaders, and their members. The meeting served three purposes, with time allotted for our ministries to socialize and collaborate, an opportunity for the Parish Advisory Board to introduce newly crafted mission, vision and value statements, and for leadership to describe the role of the Outreach Committee and its policies.

The Parish Advisory Board spent quite a bit of time discerning these new statements following the completion of our recent parish survey. Their purpose is to serve as a new guiding light following the recent years of transition. I would like to thank the board, especially Lynda Marsh, for the wonderful job done in crafting and sharing these messages with the group.

Now we have the chance to share these statements with you. These statements will help us plan and determine where the parish can continue to grow from here. Our future plans will be predicated upon these statements.

Mission Statement: 

To cultivate a vibrant community of faith by creating meaningful connections with both God and each other.

Vision Statement:

To be the faith-filled heartbeat of Tampa, welcoming one another, supporting each other, and modeling Christ’s love to all those we meet.

Value Statements:

We are a joyful, loving, and vibrant Body of Christ, finding inspiration in our diversity and delight in our parish friends and family.

(Franciscan Value: appreciation for beauty, reverence for all creation)

We are welcoming, approachable, kind, and inclusive – not only to those within our walls, but also to those who live along the margins.

(Franciscan Value: affirmation of the unique worth of each person)

We are passionately compassionate and generous with our means – intentional in our service, driven in our actions, and devoted to our social responsibilities.

(Franciscan Value: service to the poor and marginalized)

We are proudly Franciscan in spirit, embracing our unique heritage and the traditions passed down through generations before us, yet always striving to change and evolve. We’re never done with our work or ready to give up.

(Franciscan Value: faith in a personal and provident God)

The Outreach Committee was created back in 2019 to be the network through which our parish’s volunteerism and philanthropy functions. The Outreach Committee’s mission is to represent all outreach ministries of Sacred Heart, to bring their individual missions, membership, and needs to the attention of each other and the parish as we seek to fulfill God’s Will in opening our hearts to the Tampa community (from the Parish Advisory Council, February 15, 2020). The goal of the committee is to aid the parish in working collectively, with ministries helping ministries so that we do not duplicate efforts nor over burden you, our parishioners, with constant asks. At this recent meeting, the Outreach Committee shared its decision and approval processes for outreach events, collections, etc. Several suggestions were given by parishioners during the meeting for future cooperative planning, and the Outreach Committee will be looking at the integration of those suggestions.

Pope Francis is quoted saying, “a prayer that does not lead you to practical action for your brother is a sterile and incomplete prayer.” Prayer leads to outreach and learning, which then leads to action. At the same time, action flows from prayer and its fruits of love, gratitude, forgiveness, compassion, hope, respect, hospitality, and humility (from USCCB’s We Are Salt and Light).

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Reaching Out | From the Desk of the Pastor | August 2023

Dear Parishioners,

As you might have noticed from my absence at Mass, I was on vacation for a few weeks to close out the month of July. My brother and his partner arranged last minute plans for us to embark on a cruise of several European countries, as part of a celebration. In May 2022, my brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Over the past year he has had surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy. In June, all his test came back negative for the cancer. To celebrate this wonderful news, he decided for us go on a trip. The location wasn’t important. It was being with my brother.

Now back at the parish, I am excited for the busy month ahead of us. The friars will provide an official blessing of our new Bikes from the Heart ministry at the North Campus later this month. This ministry provides repaired and restored bikes for the homeless and transportation challenged within our community. It may seem a small thing, but these bikes are an opportunity which can help change their lives, giving them easier access to additional assistance and work. If you have an old bike or even parts of a bike that you no longer have use for I encourage you to get a hold of our ministry leaders with Bikes from the Heart. You can learn more here.

Members of the Bike ministry will also be on hand at our next Giving from the Heart, on Saturday, August 12, collecting specifically for our neighbors at Tampa Hope, in addition to the needs lists you’ll find here in the bulletin. This next Giving from the Heart drive also supports the teachers and students of our neighboring parish school at St. Peter Claver. As you may be reading this on the weekend of August 5-6, we are in the final days of our tax-free week here in Florida. If you are able to assist, be it that you are already shopping for supplies for your own children, or are simply looking for a more economical way to donate at this next drive, please consider grabbing an item or two from their needs lists when out shopping this weekend. We look forward to seeing you at the North Campus next Saturday.

At 6 p.m. on August 24, we invite all ministries and their representatives, as well as any interested parishioners to a parish-wide ministry outreach meeting. This meeting is a time for our ministries to gather together and looks at ways we can collaborate to fulfill our collective community outreach goals. This meeting will also feature an opportunity for our ministries and parishioners to view new parish mission, vision, statements, as created by our Parish Advisory Board. These statements come after careful consideration of the recent parish survey, and serve as a new guidance for our parish following the many changes brought in recent years. Members from the PAB will present these to the ministries. It is my hope that each ministry will take these statements on board, and work to see how their groups can individually and collectively embody them.

Largely, the August ministry meeting will be a discussion led by our Parish Outreach Committee. This committee is the conduit from which all parish ministries’ outreach goes through. This structure was created to ensure we are not duplicating efforts or constantly asking for support.  We understand our parishioners deep desire to live the Gospel through action, donations, and outreach, but I wish to ensure you do not feel burnout from any simultaneous asks. The Outreach Committee will also cover the ministry event approval process. Ideas for potential upcoming parish-wide outreach events include Soxtober (collection of socks throughout October for the benefit of our local homeless), the Advent Giving Tree (or an alternative toy drive), the Reverse Advent Calendar food drive, and the Lenten 40 Cans/40 Days food drive. In order for these drives to remain successful, we need the help of all ministries acting together. These drives may be a large undertaking for an individual ministry, but collectively, several ministries coming together can make these easier to accomplish. We will also have additional opportunities to address different needs through Giving from the Heart, which continues on the second Saturday of every other month.

If you are not part of a ministry, but would like to be a more active participant in our parish’s outreach events, please reach out to the Outreach Committee. My mother always said, “many hands make light work.” With your help, I know that we can do so much more.

Parish Advisory Board: Larry Bevis, Cindy Burnett, Sarah Daniels, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Sam Ferlita, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Dr. Stephen Krist, Helen Lukavec, Lynda Marsh, Tony Miranda, Laura Prather (Chair), and Felix Vega. Meets quarterly.

Parish Outreach Committee: Larry Bevis (Chair), Rob Boelke, Cindy Burnette, Suzanne Collins, Susan Coppin, Hank Cramer, Sarah Daniels, Angela Erb, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Mike Fabianski, Tom Henry, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Dr. Stephen Krist, Shannon Leigh, Jennifer McElroy, Robb Mercado, Tony Miranda, Don Murray, Patty Oliver, Fran Provenzano, Jim Rossman, and Olga Siegenthaler. Meets monthly.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

From the Desk of the Pastor | July 2023

Dear Parishioners,

Pope Francis is quoted as saying “Life is a journey: when we stop, things don’t go right.” When Friar Henry and myself first came to Sacred Heart in September 2020, the parish, as had all things, had largely “stopped.”  It was hard on the parishioners, staff, and friars alike. It took time and careful planning for Masses, ministries, and events to begin again. Friar Henry was very much a part of the parish’s “restart” following the height of the pandemic. His leadership, compassion, and hard work, more than many parishioners may know, helped put the parish back on a path coming out of that time. It is with sadness that we now have to say goodbye to him. As you well know, Friar Henry was appointed to be the new guardian at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, MD, where he will also work with the formation students on their journeys to become friars.

Henry will especially be missed by our local Franciscan community were he served as our guardian. Throughout Henry’s time with our province and friars, he has always been willing to go and serve were he has been needed. Henry’s last weekend with us will be July 8 & 9. I invite all parishioners to join us in St. Francis Hall following each of next weekend’s Masses to thank Friar Henry for the time he was able to spend with us here at Sacred Heart. 

Friar Henry Fulmer, OFM, (center) departs after three years at Sacred Heart for a new assignment in Maryland this July.

Pope Francis is also quoted as saying, “God is not afraid of new things.”  Neither should we be afraid of new things and where God might be leading our parish. As I have mentioned before, Angela Erb, our parish event coordinator, will also be departing from her position in the coming weeks. I cannot say it enough, just how much of a blessing it was to have Angela on our staff, as we wish her well in her new endeavors. Sacred Heart is her home away from home, and we are thankful to know that Angela will still be around, volunteering for multiple ministries and events. We recently hired a new Event, Hospitality & Parish Outreach Manager, Connie Gee, who will begin in this new position following the Independence Day holiday period. She comes to Sacred Heart experience and a lot of energy. I invite you to come and meet Connie at a reception scheduled for Monday, July 10 at 6 p.m. in St. Francis Hall.

Our parish life does not begin or end with the friars or staff, but with our parishioners. There are dozens and dozens of parishioners who put in additional time and effort helping steer our parish through their individual ministries, volunteerism, or council on committees and boards. I want to inform you of the committee members who will be aiding the friars across the 2023/2024 liturgical seasons:

Parish Advisory Board: Larry Bevis, Cindy Burnett, Sarah Daniels, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Sam Ferlita, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Dr. Stephen Krist, Helen Lukavec, Lynda Marsh, Tony Miranda, Laura Prather (Chair), and Felix Vega. Meets quarterly.

Finance Committee: Mark Agustin, Cindy Burnette (Chair),  Larry Cabrera, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Craig Lukavec, Laura Prather, and Anne Wiles. Meets quarterly.

Liturgical Advisory Committee: Aprile Black, Rob Boelke, Sam Corson, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Barbara Ferreris, Deacon Ray Ferreris, Philip Jakob, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Mike Kelley, Fr. Steve Kluge, OFM, Erin McKernan, and Jeff Wible. Meets based upon the liturgical seasons, usually six times a year.

Maintenance Committee: Ed Bugel, Larry Cabrera, Sarah Daniels, Jerry DiFabrizio, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Sam Ferlita (Chair), Kay Gerardo, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Jim McCarthy, and Tony Miranda. Meets quarterly.

Parish Outreach Committee: Larry Bevis (Chair), Rob Boelke, Cindy Burnette, Suzanne Collins, Susan Coppin, Hank Cramer, Sarah Daniels, Angela Erb, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Mike Fabianski, Tom Henry, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Dr. Stephen Krist, Shannon Leigh, Jennifer McElroy, Robb Mercado, Tony Miranda, Don Murray, Patty Oliver, Fran Provenzano, Jim Rossman, and Olga Siegenthaler. Meets monthly.

Our parish has life because people come and share their faith with others, as Friar Henry and Angela have done. I know we will continue to build on the work from the journeys they have taken through Sacred Heart. I am truly thankful to all our leaders and volunteers, and I am grateful that I can be apart of Sacred Heart with you.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike