Celebrating 75 Years
As we celebrate 75 years officially becoming a parish, let us look back on the history of our parish, starting at the very beginning....
Moments in the History of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church
The first Mass celebrated in Winter Park was in the “Crane Cottage,” the winter residence of John H. LaMontaigne, a Rollins College professor. Priests from St. James continued to offer the Mass.
Land was Purchased
To accommodate the increasing number of people coming to Winter Park plans for a mission church of St. James began in 1921 to be named St. Margaret Mary after St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Land was purchased by the Diocese of St. Augustine on the corner of Knowles and Canton Avenues. Through the generosity of Miss Victorine Reynaert and others, funds were gathered for a church building. Miss Victorine made her donation in memory of her uncle, Father John H. Reynaert, a retired priest from Belgium living in the area.
Established as a Parish
The mission of St. Margaret Mary was canonically established as a parish on November 5, 1947.
Father Daniel C. Hegarty
The church was severely damaged by a fire on February 3, 1948 (the Feast of St. Blaise) and was closed for several months. It was officially reopened in a ceremony presided over by Auxiliary Bishop of St. Augustine, Bishop Thomas McDonough on January 9, 1949.
A School is Formed
Houses on the block of Park, Canton, Knowles, and Swoop Avenues were purchased to build a school. Until it was built classes were held in the new “L” shaped church wing and some of the purchased homes. 262 children made up the initial enrollment. The Sisters of Christian Charity of Mendham, NJ arrived to teach at the school.
Convent is Established
The house at 500 Knowles Avenue was purchased for use as a convent for the Sisters.
Construction on a New Church Began
In February a building fund campaign was launched to construct a new church building. In June the Diocese of Orlando was created out of the Diocese of St. Augustine, with Bishop William D. Borders as the first bishop. In December groundbreaking ceremonies were held and construction began for a new church. The exterior was constructed from Miami Stone while the interior used imported Carrara marble from Italy.
Neighborhood Apostolate Established
In February Msgr. Wells commissioned leaders in a Neighborhood Apostolate tailored to the goals of the parish: to coordinate needs of parishioners, form communities of concerned and prayerful Christian people, foster spiritual growth through prayer meetings and discussion groups, to be ecumenical.
Korean Catholic Mass
Korean Catholics began holding their Masses at St. Margaret Mary. This continued until their mission church, St. Ignatius Kim, was built in 1992.
More School Renovations
Renovations were made to the Parish Hall to add a new upper-level addition for classrooms to accommodate the school’s 120 seventh and eighth grade students.
Major Church Renovations
Major Interior renovations were made to the church building including new carpet, changes to the choir area, refinishing the pews and adding two wheel chair accessible sections, installation of a new baptismal font near the narthex, establishing the Chapel of Reservation in the sanctuary, repainting, adding new lighting, and a new acoustical sound system.
The parish is recognized in a national study as “outstanding” for its participative, well-planned liturgies directed by a dedicated team, Scripture classes, lecture series, programs for seniors, and the Family, Friends & Chicken Soup program, which provides meals and rides to those in need. "I suppose it's nice to be recognized, but what we do here is not for recognition," said Father Richard Walsh. “We try to do meaningful work as participants in the hand of God."
Haiti Ministry Established
DVD Real Presence Produced
As part of the Year of Evangelization the parish produced a DVD titled “Real Presence,” featuring interviews with parishioners about their ministries in the church showing how they represent the real presence of Jesus Christ in the world.