Category Archives: Parish News

Divisions | Friar Reflections | The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

In chapter nine, verse five of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, the prophet refers to the coming of Jesus as the Prince of Peace. Initially, we may see the coming of our Savior as the one who would bring peace and order to a broken humanity. In this weekend’s Gospel, we hear a different side of Jesus, a side we are not expecting or may not be comfortable with. We hear Jesus asking his disciples in Luke 12:51, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Simeon’s prophecy to Mary and Joseph in the passage from Luke 2:34 complements the point Jesus is making in this weekend’s Gospel. “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His Mother: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted.” We can see that unbridled devotion to Jesus certainly does come at a cost, as shown to us in the early life of St. Francis of Assisi. As biographers of St. Francis of Assisi tell us, St. Francis’ father, Pietro Bernardone, was outraged over his son’s behavior in showing his particular brand of that devotion. This outrage led to a public confrontation. Before the bishop of Assisi and onlookers, Bernardone disinherited and disowned his son, Francesco.

St. Francis Renounces all Worldly Goods | Fresco by Giotto | 1299

His son, in turn, renounced his father and his patrimony, saying “Listen everyone and understand it well: until now I have called Pietro Bernardone my father; but now that I intend to serve the Lord, I am returning to this man all the money which has caused him such a bother and all the clothes that were his property; and from now on I shall say Our Father which art in Heaven, instead of my father, Pietro Bernardone.” This story illustrates the truth of Jesus’ saying: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” The division between Bernadone and St. Francis reveals that the peace proclaimed by the angels at the birth of the prince of peace—the peace that Jesus himself is—comes hand in hand with uncompromising fidelity to God’s word. St. Francis from that point on did his best to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We all know very well that to follow Jesus unreservedly, the action is regularly met with opposition, causing tension within our most loving relationships, and I believe therein lies another challenge facing us.

Every Monday morning, we friars reflect upon the upcoming Sunday readings. As we were sharing our thoughts last week, Fr. Steve raised a quote attributed to the television personality Dr. Phil McGraw. Paraphrasing Dr. Phil, Fr. Steve mentioned the former clinical psychologist’s ideas on choice, saying when we’re faced with the choice of doing the right thing, or the loving thing, in most cases, the loving choice is the correct one to take. We, as Franciscans, choose mostly to preach on God’s abundant grace, love, and forgiveness towards us all and to follow the way of St. Francis in imitating Christ to the best of our individual abilities. And sometimes doing the right thing is doing the loving thing. We are all called to be faithful without counting the cost, even if the cost is separation from loved ones.

One of St. Francis’ regrets divulged when he was nearing death was that he never reconciled with his father. Let our prayer be that regardless of the source of the divisions in our lives, that they be always met with loving concern for the other in the peace granted us freely from Christ.

Peace and all good,
Fr. Zack

Bringing Them All Together – Friar Reflections – The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

You’ve likely heard the friars speak recently about upcoming changes to the structure of the order across the U.S. After being asked by several parishioners, I thought I would give everyone an update of what is happening. A campaign regarding revitalization and restructuring is ongoing, with Franciscans from all six American provinces discussing ways to create new energy within Franciscan life in the U.S., as well as modifications to the governing structures for the Order of Friars Minor here.

While the number of religious is growing in Asia and Africa, it is dropping in Europe and in the U.S. Provinces that once were comprised of more than a thousand are now down to only a few hundred. Restructuring may allow more of the money generously donated to the Franciscans by the people of God to be dedicated to our works. For instance, there are savings which can be gained by combining vocation offices, accounting offices, communication offices, etc.

Last week, Henry, Zack and myself attended a gathering in Kansas City, MO for the Franciscan friars throughout the United States aged 65 and younger. Holy Name Province, which covers the majority of the east coast, including our parish, was one of the six provinces present at the meetings. The gathering was a blessing, and served as a chance for us to reconnect with or meet new friars from other provinces.

The Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province at a chapter gathering in 2018.

This process actually began in 2018, when the provinces of St. Barbara, Holy Name, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. John the Baptist, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Sacred Heart gathered in their respective extraordinary chapters and voted on whether or not to petition the Minister General and the General Definitory to allow these six provinces to form a new, singular province. All six provinces voted yes. Since then, each of the provinces have worked towards this revitalization and restructuring goal. Franciscan vocation and formation teams have been working interprovincially for years, standing as a model of how the different provinces can work together.

Last week’s gathering and meetings allows us to shape what we hope the new province will look like. The friars today are much more diverse in race, culture, language, and in many other ways. We need a province that will reflect that diversity. A prevailing result of the meetings over the last four years has been the friars excitement about this new opportunity to come together as one. It is an opportunity to renew and revitalize our Franciscan charism and our fraternal life together.

From most people’s perspective on the outside, not much will change. Many of the same parishes will be staffed by many of the same friars. For us friars, there will be a much richer variety of possible ministry opportunities available. A young man may want to serve in a California mission, or with migrants on the southern border, or in one of our colleges and universities, or in different parish settings, or with different language groups, or in direct service to the poor, or some mixture of these ministries during his life. No longer will he be restricted to those ministries available only in the area of the country served by his current province.

In May, the name for this new U.S. OFM province was announced as Our Lady of Guadalupe Province. The name reflects St. Francis of Assisi’s devotion to the blessed mother and represents the patron saints of the Americas. Many of our ministries here at Sacred Heart already celebrate this important feast day. Our liturgy committee decided even before the naming of the new province that the parish would celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe this December. In the past we have had special celebrations of this feast day, but they were one of many aspects of our parish life that was paused during the pandemic. I hope everyone will come join us in December as we reintegrate this parish tradition with new meaning and significance to our order.

Also recently announced was the location for the new provincialate (headquarters). Atlanta, GA was chosen for ease of access and weather. The new provincial office will also look to expand its ministry in the Atlanta metro area where much of the administration will soon be located.

The Chapter of Unity, the gathering where the six provinces will become one, will be held in Kansas City in October 2023.

Peace and all good,
Fr. Mike

August’s Giving from the Heart to Support SVdP, Dignity for Haiti

Sacred Heart is holding its latest Giving from the Heart drive-through donation event on Saturday, August 13 at the North Campus main lot from 10 a.m. to noon. The August event is an effort of both Open Doors and the Young Professionals, benefitting Dignity for Haiti and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Started in 2020, Dignity for Haiti is a non-profit dedicated to providing food, education, and shelter to people in Haiti, as well as funding and means needed to promote self- sustainability. The group focuses its mission through the parish of Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours on the island of La Gonâve, which is comprised of three chapels and nearly 400 parishioners.

Founded in 1833, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a worldwide organization of lay Catholics, following Christ’s call to serve the poor, the suffering, and the deprived. Operating in Hillsborough County since 1932, SVdP works to ease an individual or family’s initial emergency, then shepherd them into programs that can bring lasting change. Donations made locally are used and distributed throughout Hillsborough County neighborhoods. Many will know Sacred Heart’s group of SVdP volunteers as one of the 13 conferences for the non-profit within Hillsborough County.

If you are interested in volunteering for our next Giving from the Heart donation drive, contact Open Doors or the Young Professionals via email.

Below are lists from each organization highlighting the most needed items hoping to be collected during the drive.

Saint Vincent de Paul Needs:

  • Clothing (new or gently used), such as men’s jeans and shorts, tee shirts,
  • Tennis shoes, slides, sandals (new or gently used; men’s and women’s)
  • Socks and Undergarments (new; men’s and women’s)
  • Nail care items, such as clippers and files
  • Can openers

Dignity for Haiti Needs:

  • Home Healthcare Items, such as antibiotic ointment, adult and children pain relievers, antiseptic solutions, cotton balls, swabs, and gauze, antacids, cold remedies, bandages and band aids, waterproof tape, anti-diarrheal tablets, burn gel, eye drops
  • Toiletries and cleaning supplies, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, laundry detergent (Fels-Naptha), hand sanitizer, dish soap
  • Household necessities, such as batteries (9V and AA), lightbulbs (60W)

We thank you in advance for your generosity and continued support!

Holy Hospitality | Friar Reflections | The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear parishioners,

The Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

Today’s first reading from the book of Genesis (18:1-10) recounts the story of Abraham and Sarah giving hospitality to three strangers. In the ancient world, the gift of hospitality was
the norm, not the exception.

On reading this story, I couldn’t help but gaze on one of my favorite icons by the 15th century Russian master Andrei Rublev, who depicts this scene as Three divine beings, pictured as angels, seated around a table. At the head of the table to the left, is God the Father, in the center, the Son, and to the right the Holy Spirit, with the wings of all three forming an open circle, which may symbolize spiritual unity, peace, and mutual love.

Rublev’s famous icon showing the three angels being hosted by Abraham at Mambré, 1425

What’s interesting is that the circle is not closed, but open, and some art historians suggest that the small rectangle on the side of the table facing the viewer may have held a mirror, thus making the viewer part of the scene. This first reading, as well as the Rublev icon, pairs well with today’s well known Gospel reading (Lk 10:38-42) of Martha and Mary, offering hospitality to Jesus.

Martha takes on the burden of doing all the serving, while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus listening to Him speak. Despite the protestations of Martha, Jesus will not require Mary to leave her place and help her sister since, “Mary has chosen the better part.”

I don’t know about you, but often I come to Mass burdened with my own personal struggles, family issues, ministerial demands, or worrisome world and national issues facing all of us. The worst thing I can do is to feel so overwhelmed that I begin to skip my morning private prayer, the friar’s communal morning and evening prayer, or the celebration of the Eucharist. I’ve discovered that when most burdened by whatever, the Lord kindly offers me the opportunity to spend time in His presence.

Though my burdens don’t magically disappear, prayer seems to sanctify them, and they seem to lose some of their heaviness. By responding to the Lord’s invitation to spend time with Him, I am given renewed strength as well as the understanding that I am part of a holy community that will help carry what I cannot carry by myself.

As we celebrate this weekend’s liturgy, whether in person or via the live stream, let us remember that the God of holy hospitality invites us to come even with our burdens and sin. Let us remember that our encounter with Christ today can change us more and more into His image if we let Him. Then, to imitate that great open circle of holy hospitality in the Rublev icon, let us offer and invite someone to share and sit at our table to be refreshed, restored, and renewed.

Peace and all good,
Fr. Steve

Go and Do Likewise | Staff Reflections | The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear parishioners,

This week’s Gospel delivers a branched or layered look into the principles of our faith, wherein Jesus provides us with tenets through the Greatest Commandment, and backs it up through parable with the Good Samaritan. It’s so fitting that the law scholar approaching or questioning Jesus calls him “Teacher,” because that is exactly the way anyone in that selfless profession would approach their student. They would explain the necessary information, then work them through a hypothetical or real-world scenario in which they could apply the information they just learned.

It’s so simply applied, yet so poignant, to see Jesus readily act as a teacher. He provides the scholar the tools for which to achieve his end goal of salvation, but He does not go so far as to over explain or provide too much context. I’ve always admired how casual this scripture reading ends, as if He were to shrug His shoulders when telling the scholar, “Go and do likewise.” I’d half-expect that Luke left out the part where Jesus patted the scholar on the back, saying, “Go get ’em, kid!”

We have a very good opportunity within our parish community here at Sacred Heart to embody that line: “Go and do likewise.” Many of us on the staff are doing just that, taking the relative downtime of the summer months to prepare the parish for larger aspects of the liturgical and event calendars following the season’s conclusion, working to ensure you can join us in the “likewise.”

Registration for Faith Formation programs, such as RCIA, for the upcoming catechetical year is now available.

It’s no secret that so much of a Catholic parish’s calendar is dictated by the school calendars of their local area. This gives our Faith Formation staff the opportunity to plan their programs for the upcoming 2022/2023 catechetical year. Much of what they hope to accomplish with their students and catechumens is already ready to go. Registration for Family and Adult Faith Formation, sacramental preparation, and RCIA was made available recently through the parish website.

Event planning is working at a breakneck pace, with the addition of our new event coordinator. The staff is reinvigorating several events that were discontinued in the face of the pandemic, including “new parishioner welcome” meals, ministry fairs, volunteer appreciation luncheons, and new offerings, like “Theology on Tap.” An event planning committee is being reinvigorated as well. Those wishing to assist with events like our Fall Festival and Cookies with St. Nick, among others, will have the opportunity to reengage with the parish in this new group via monthly meetings starting in late August.

Events such as “New Parishioner Welcome” meals will be coming back onboard as we continue to build back our event schedule.

Our event and communications staff are working in concert to finalize details for parish listening sessions, alongside the friars and members of our parish advisory board. In a previous letter, I mentioned the need to provide a platform for parishioners to directly engage with our friars regarding long range plans and vision, and these sessions will provide that and more. Invitations for specific sessions will be released this month, with multiple sessions being hosted throughout August, culminating in an open session in late August and the launch of a parish-wide survey. We hope to have as much participation as possible in this endeavor.

Many ministries are also preparing their new offerings. A new women’s prayer group is being formed. A new racial justice committee has held their initial meeting, and are gathering a plan for programming as the friars continue to assist the implementation of a broader JPIC ministry within the parish. Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation being a principle tenet of the Franciscan charism, it will be great to see where this new group takes their ministry.

While this summary of our parish’s current objectives is just a small glance, I hope this is enough information for you, our parishioners, to “do likewise” alongside us.

Peace and all good,
Rob Boelke

Registration for 2022/23 Faith Formation Now Open

Faith Formation at Sacred Heart : Registration for the 2022-2023 Catechetical Year

Family Faith Formation: Sacred Heart offers a non-traditional approach to assist parents in forming the faith of their children. “Family Faith Formation” is exactly what it says – families sharing and growing in faith. Registration for Family Faith Formation begins Friday, July 1. Registration is open to all families who have children ages four (4) through high school.  Sessions are slated to begin on both Sunday, Sept. 11 and  Wednesday, Sept. 14. Registration forms and additional information are available here.

Sacrament Registration: If your child will be preparing to receive Reconciliation, Eucharist, or Confirmation this coming year and you were enrolled in Family Faith Formation this past year, families should expect to receive a mailing with registration forms and schedules early next week.

If you are new to the parish and have not attended Family Faith Formation at Sacred Heart -OR- your child attends a Catholic School, please contact Maria Giral at 813-229-1595 ext. 214 or Barbara Ferreris 813-229-1595 ext. 204 for registration information and materials. Sacramental preparation takes place in the parish, and is not handled through the Catholic school your child may attend. For more information, click here.

CLOW: Children’s Liturgy of the Word will resume on Sunday, August 21 at the 9 a.m. Mass. Immediately prior to the Liturgy of the Word, children and catechists are dismissed from the church to the St. Clare Room to celebrate a Liturgy of the Word geared towards children. They then rejoin the Mass and their families during the Preparation of the Gifts for the remainder of the liturgy. Registration forms and additional information are available here.

RCIA: The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process by which adults from other faith traditions are received into full communion with the Catholic Church. RCIA is a journey of faith that not-yet baptized adults, as well as baptized adults, complete with the help of a sponsor, the catechists, the discernment team, and above all, on the strength of their own conviction and desire to grow in their faith.

Are you or someone you know interested in the Catholic faith? RCIA sessions will resume in early September. Please visit the “Adult Faith Formation” page or call Barbara Ferreris in the parish office at 813-229-1595 ext. 204 for more.

Volunteer In Faith Formation: Our parishioners have faithfully answered their Baptismal call and have responded to our needs for volunteers in our faith formation programs. But, there is still room for a few more! If you are prayerfully considering sharing your time and talent in this ministry, we have many ways you can help.

  • Sunday morning Family Faith facilitators
  • Children’s Liturgy of the Word (Sunday 9 a.m. Mass)
  • Wednesday evening Family Faith facilitators
  • Sacrament Preparation Catechists
  • Sunday morning office and administrative assistance

We invite you to become a part of our amazing team — serving God and our Sacred Heart community! To learn how you can help, please contact our Faith Formation department via email or at 813-229-1595, Ext. 204 or 214.



Statement from the Florida Council of Catholic Bishops

To view the original document released by the FCCB, click here.

June 24, 2022
Michele Taylor
Associate Director for Communications
(850) 205-6817

Statement on U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

TALLAHASSEE – On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In response, the bishops of Florida issued the following statement:

“We are deeply heartened to see that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in its landmark opinion, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The most influential abortion case in decades, Dobbs is a decision by our nation’s highest court to allow states to protect women and their children from abortion through all stages of pregnancy.

“The legacy of Roe and Casey has been the imposition of an abortion regime that made our nation one of the most liberal of Western democratic countries on abortion. As a result, over 62 million children nationwide and 3,368,4751 children in Florida were denied the opportunity to live outside the womb since 1973. Mothers, fathers, and families have suffered under the shadow of Roe. Now, decision-making on abortion policy is once again in the hands of the American people and their elected officials. This is a momentous step towards establishing a more robust culture of life.

“The Dobbs case marks a new era for the work of the Church and all those who strive to protect children in the womb. We remain committed to ministries of service that accompany expectant mothers facing difficult or unintended pregnancies. We strive to continue to build a society that empowers women so that mothers are truly supported throughout pregnancy and beyond. A truly pro-life culture values women for their unique contributions and special gifts in all spheres of life, while supporting them in their roles as mothers. We wholeheartedly promote the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ initiative Walking with Moms in Need as well as the Florida Pregnancy Care Network to provide life-affirming care for women.

“We also remain passionate in the collective effort to change hearts and minds in Florida so that abortion is unthinkable, and to advocate for the legal protection of human life in the womb accompanied by profound care for mothers and their children. Roe’s reversal is the long-awaited righting of a grievous wrong, and we look ahead with grateful hope as we seek to bring the light of Christ and the Gospel of Life to our state of Florida.”

1)…/usa/ab-usa-FL.html, accessed on May 20, 2022.

# # #

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of Florida. It speaks for the Church in matters of public policy and serves as liaison to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The archbishop and bishops of the seven (arch)dioceses in Florida constitute its board of directors.

Parishioners Show in Droves for Successful Donation Event for Tampa Hope, JCHC

Volunteers from Sacred Heart’s Outreach Committee, Friars, and Knights of Columbus managed to thwart the rain as our latest Giving from the Heart donation drive-thru event was held last Saturday, June 11, at the North Campus. The event was organized in conjunction with Catholic Charities DOSP and Faith Community Nursing, supporting both the Tampa Hope Homeless Center and the Judeo-Christian Health Clinic.

The Judeo Christian Health Clinic provides free, quality, timely and compassionate health care to medically indigent residents of the Tampa Bay area who have no other resources for their health care needs. The Clinic, which began in 1972, serves patients who do not qualify for government funded programs and have incomes that fall just above the federal poverty level. JCHC recorded nearly 30,000 visits in 2021.

Opened last year, Tampa Hope houses over 100 local homeless in semi-permanent shelters while providing food, clothing, transportation, education, employment and benefits assistance, substance abuse and mental health counseling, basic medical care, and case management services in an effort to help reestablish permanent housing. Sacred Heart is an original partner of the facility, which is located in East Tampa.

More than 40 vehicles drove through with many car-and-truck loads of needed items, including toiletries, blankets, clothes, cleaning, office, medical and kitchen supplies, as well as monetary donations. More than 500 individual items were collected to help stock these important community resources.

Our next Giving from the Heart event will be held in August, co-sponsored by Open Doors and Sacred Heart’s Young Professionals, benefitting Saint Vincent de Paul, and Dignity for Haiti.

View the gallery below for pictures from the event:

Welcome Fr. Steve Kluge, OFM


On Pentecost Sunday, parishioners had a chance to meet our newest Franciscan Friar, Fr. Steve Kluge, OFM, as he celebrated his first Masses since joining us at Sacred Heart as a parochial vicar.

Presiding over the 10:30 a.m. and noon Masses, Fr. Steve brought out some snacks as props to help us understand how he believes he fits into the scheme of both the Friars, which he views as a tin of “mixed nuts,” as well as the Church as a whole.

If you attended a different Mass, and would like to see Fr. Steve’s introductory homily, you can view it below:

Original Post:

Sacred Heart is delighted to announce that Fr. Stephen (Steve) Kluge, OFM, will join the parish as a parochial vicar in early June.

Fr. Steve most recently served as a pastoral associate at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Long Beach, N.J. just 40 miles from where he was raised in Point Pleasant, N.J.

Fr. Steve joined the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province in 1994, and has served as a friar for more than 27 years. Fr. Steve earned a Master’s of Divinity from the Washington Theological Union in Washington D.C. and was ordained in 2001.

Fr. Steve has spent most of his ministerial life with the people of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New Jersey, including seven years as pastor. Prior to returning to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New Jersey, Fr. Steve was parochial vicar of St. Francis Parish in Raleigh, N.C., where he ministered to men on death row, and served as the spiritual assistant to the local Secular Franciscan Fraternity.

Fr. Steve is also a poet and author of a well received book of poetry entitled, “From a Parish Priest.”

Fr. Francis Di Spigno, the current pastor at St. Francis of Assisi in New Jersey, said of Fr. Steve in a recent goodbye letter, “I always enjoyed living with Steve and ministering beside him. He is a man of deep prayer and great faith. I will certainly miss him, his counsel, and his wonderful ability to teach complicated mysteries in ways that even the simplest among us can understand. He has a great way of weaving his humor into pretty much everything.”

Please join the friars and staff in welcoming Fr. Steve as part of our parish upon his arrival.

Why do we celebrate the Ascension on a Sunday?

On May 29, 2022, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. In the days following His resurrection until the Ascension, Jesus appeared to His apostles in several different ways to affirm for them that He had been raised from the dead and truly lives. They were filled with the theological virtue of faith, indicating that with God all things are possible. Soon He would leave them again, this time to sit at His Father’s Right Hand.

Did you know? |  We see His Ascension depicted in the triptych of windows along the south side of the church, adjacent to the choir area, with His disciples losing sight of Him among the clouds as He was lifted. These windows were donated to the parish in 1904 by the Knights of Columbus and dedicated “to the greater honor and glory of God.”

I always thought it was “Ascension Thursday.” What Changed? | The Solemnity of the Ascension is a Holy Day of Obligation, occurring on the Thursday that coincides with the 40-day mark following Easter, and is celebrated as such in many regions of the country, while other regions transfer the celebration to the following Sunday. Transferring the Ascension to Sunday is actually not that new, and part of a larger trend to transfer holy days of obligation and other solemnities to the following Sunday. Doing so allows greater exposure and more solemn celebration of the holy day among the faithful.

For the Ascension in the United States, this trend started on the West Coast in the late 1990s, and eventually spread. Other parts of the world have also transferred this solemnity to Sunday including Australia, Canada, and some countries in Europe. With the approval of the Holy See, the episcopal conference (the body of bishops in a country) can transfer solemnities and change some of the holy days of obligation (Canon 1246). In the U.S., each ecclesiastical province, or the metropolitan archdiocese and its suffragan dioceses, was permitted to decide whether to transfer the Ascension or not. (Portions of this article are attributed to the Paul Christopher Lim’s “From the Back of the Church”)