ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Diocese of St. Petersburg
St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church sits on a tranquil, treed, 20-acre property, in the Seffner-Mango area of Hillsborough County.
The parish was established on November 10, 1987, when the Most Reverend W. Thomas Larkin, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, appointed Fr. Christopher R. Fitzgerald, I.C., to be its founder and pastor.
Since the beginning, St. Francis of Assisi has been served by the Institute of Charity, a religious order of priests called Rosminians, named after their founder, Blessed Antonio Rosmini. Father Fitzgerald retired in 2011and was succeeded by Father Michael O’Neill, I.C.; Upon Fr. O’Neill’s retirement in 2017, he was succeeded by our current Pastor, Father Edison Bernavas I.C.
It all began in a simple storefront of a local shopping center, where Fr. Fitzgerald ministered and celebrated the sacraments. The first Mass was celebrated on December 5, 1987, with approximately 200 in attendance; twenty days later, over 600 attended the Christmas liturgies.
Not long after that, thanks to his guidance and the spirit of our pioneering parishioners, on March 12, 1989, ground was broken for the construction of our new church and parish center. This was a “planned for growth” structure, which was designed for expansion, to keep pace with our growing needs. Staged additions from 1996 through 2014 brought us offices, classrooms, meeting rooms, restrooms, a commercial kitchen, dining and social spaces.
Our spirited origins are still reflected in today’s parish culture. In the very beginning, a core of determined, caring people of faith, worked tirelessly to build a church community. Through their gifts of time, treasure and talent, the parish thrived and the core began to grow. Others came, believed and volunteered and this culture of faith, love and family has given rise to the richness of ‘gift of self’, which was and still is the ‘jewel’ of today’s parish life.
The Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic Faith, is the heartbeat of our parish. In addition to our daily masses, we are most privileged to be home to a weekday, 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Adjacent to our Sanctuary, this Chapel is home to the Divine Presence where one can come at any moment of inspiration or need…. day or night.
An oasis of peace, St Francis of Assisi Church also boasts an inspiring, outdoor Rosary Garden, conducive to prayer and meditation. Built in 2019, Our Lady’s Rosary Garden, in its beautiful, natural setting, lends itself to solitary meditation, as well as, communal prayer, activities and ceremonies.
Our parish is one of diversity, shared ministries and support, which helps promote personal and sacramental growth, fellowship, and evangelization. Outreach programs, such as our Wednesday, hot meal service, provides weekly, nutritious sustenance to our needy neighbors. We are home to many ministries and programs, which are suited to both our English and Spanish speaking men, women and children of all ages.
Steeped in the scriptural tradition of Good Stewardship, we have an advisory board, called the Parish Pastoral Council, as well as, Planning and Fundraising Committees, which collaborate with our Pastor to help maximize all facets of our parish life. Rising out of this cooperative spirit, lively and essential programs and fundraisers, such as, our first Annual Community Carnival and now our Annual Car and Craft Show, were both conceived and realized.
Our parish has grown in so many ways over its years in this area and that growth has been, not only in numbers of parishioners, but in the level of their dedication, work and stewardship. With so many and diverse activities, every parishioner has an opportunity to fulfill his or her calling and make a difference.
We invite you to take a closer look at our Parish life by reviewing the other pages on this website. You are sure to find ministries and programs that are just right for you and your family.
St. Francis of Assisi presently has over 800 registered families, which include a large, vibrant Hispanic community, as well as, many additional winter and seasonal visitors.
All are welcome at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church!