Category Archives: From the Desk of the Pastor

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

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

From the Desk of the Pastor | June 2023

Dear Parishioners,

As we enter the summer months, and reenter Ordinary Time, you would think the friars and staff would be collectively exhaling, following back-to-back liturgical seasons, the parish gala, and many recent outreach initiatives. While that may be true, and I do hope many of us, yourselves included, find some peace following a busy period in our year, we are also presented the opportunity to address planning, staffing, and long-range projects during this time, and I wish to update you on a few of these fronts.

I’ll start by mentioning that Angela Erb, our parish event coordinator, announced last month that she would be stepping down from her position in order to pursue other career opportunities. Angela has been a parishioner of Sacred Heart since childhood, and assures us that she “isn’t going anywhere,” offering to assist not only with the transition of the role, but also as a volunteer for events and more in the coming years. While there is no immediate timetable for this transition, we have begun a search for the position, with the new Event, Hospitality & Outreach Manager responsible for implementing, organizing, or assisting with the various experiences, meetings, outreach, and events conducted at Sacred Heart. This role will become a full-time position. We thank Angela for all of her hard work and dedication to the parish. The Fall Festival and Gala are just two of the very successful events that Angela organized.

A few weeks ago, the parish advisory board met to continue providing valuable input into the vision and mission of our parish, while also reviewing the results from the recent parish survey. The advisory board works alongside the finance, maintenance, and outreach committees to provide leadership for our parish. The board is comprised of eleven parishioners, including the chairs of the aforementioned committees, and the friars. Each of the current board members are parishioners who all who serve in one or more ministries. The board will meet again in June to establish a clear set of short and long-range plans for the parish following the recent years of transition. One of those goals will be with the North Campus, and how we can best reorganize previously arranged plans for development.

While the doors at the southern front entrance have been restored, work is still to be completed.

Our maintenance committee has also been busy with various projects. While I wish I had better news, we are still waiting for the restoration company to finish with the punch list for the first set of doors at the southern front entrance. It has also been difficult to find a company that will assist us in resetting the stained glass above that entrance. The maintenance committee is garnering additional quotes regarding the restoration of the remaining sets of doors. You can see especially the Twiggs St. (handicap) and central sets of doors are in desperate need of repairs. The first set of doors have ended up costing twice as much as originally anticipated. Additional upcoming maintenance will include a cleaning of the church exterior, and addressing several minor leaks. We will also be adding additional closet space in the sacristy.

The maintenance committee has been looking at other long-term projects at the North Campus as well. We are moving forward with a replacement of the roof on the main school building. A contractor has already been procured, with agreements now being finalized. After receiving several estimates regarding the renovation to the kitchen, the committee has established a sub-committee to work specifically on this endeavor.

New volunteer opportunities are also being developed this summer, through our Loving Heart’s Ministry and their Adopt-A-School program. The ministry is looking to provide mentors and tutors to students at St. Joseph School in West Tampa and St. Peter Claver School here in Downtown. It would require a background check, safe environment training, and a few hours of your time each week, but that pales to the impact your time can have on these student’s lives. If you would like to learn more about this opportunity please contact Loving Hearts via the information in their advertisement in this week’s bulletin.

Fr. Mike accompanied the new Bikes from the Heart ministry in delivering bikes to Tampa Hope on May 24.

Also on the ministry front, there is a new ministry in development, committed to repairing and restoring used bicycles so that they may be given to those in need. The new Bikes from the Heart ministry debuted at our Homeless Outreach event last month, assisting several clients with on-site repairs, and developing a list of those applying to be given the refurbished bicycles. Last week, I was able to accompany the ministry as they made their first delivery of eight bicycles to the Tampa Hope homeless shelter. We know transportation might mean the difference between landing a job or not being able to work. If you have an old or disused bike, or additional parts that are sitting around, please get in touch with our new ministry, as Bikes from the Heart will certainly put them to good use. You can learn more about Bikes from the Heart here.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike