For 30 years the Mercedarian Friars have had a presence in St Petersburg, FL. Presently, five friars live at St. Peter Nolasco Residence. Their superior, Fr Tony Fortunato, recently took sometime to share the latest news from the "Sunshine State".
1) For those who do not know the history of the local house, how long has the Order been in St Petersburg? How did we come to the diocese?
The order came to St. Petersburg, FL in August 1984 to work in the diocese of St. Petersburg. Our first apostolate was at St. Jude's Cathedral and then, later in the local Catholic High School. Frs. Benedict,Joseph, and Anthony, were the very first ones to open the house. Then, later, Fr.
Ken was the fourth friar to make up the local community. All of this was thanks to Bishop Thomas Larkin who knew Fr.
Luigi Di Talia from Le Roy, NY. Bishop Larkin was in fact born in Mt. Morris, NY near to our
When we first got to Florida, the Order rented the old Office of St. Jude from August
10, 1984 until 1991. On March 17, 1991 we build our own "home", so-called: St.
Peter Nolasco Residence, blessed on that very day by the Bishop of St.
Petersburg, John Clement Favalora.
2) Who is in your local community and what are their apostolates?
Fr. Oscar works full time at Eckerd College, for the Catholicstudents. Also he works for the Latino's in various churches, such as Holy Cross, St. Michael and St. Cecilia. Fr. Michael works at Maria Manor, R.C. Nursing Home and part time as Chaplain at Bay Front Hospital and All
children Hospital. Fr. James is full time Parochial Vicar at St. Jude's Cathedral (from 1984 until now there has been a Mercedarian Friar workingat St. Jude C. full time). Fr. Scott is full time Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart Church and also as Canon lawyer for 3 Dioceses such as Orlando, Venice, and St. Pete. Fr. Anthony works from time to time at St. Jude Cathedral and at Blessed Trinity...
Is there anything exciting or interesting which the friars have been involved in over the past year or so?
Three Friars work nicely with all the Knights of Columbus in the area next to our Community, in different capacities, but most of all as spiritual animators of the members. One friar works also with the Marriage Encounter Community of the Tampa Bay Section 5 with spiritual assistance and the priest for the weekend, several time a year.
Any news or events from the diocese of St Petersburg?
Last September 12th, the Diocese of St. Pete rededicated the St. Jude Cathedral with a Liturgical Celebration attended by many Bishops and at least 200 priests. Before the Celebration in the Cathedral, there was a
very rich supper which was attended by all the clergy invited by such a celebration with much interpersonal sharing and best wishes for the all diocese.
What would you say has been the highlight of the last year for your local community?
Surely the coming of Fr. Scott to our Community all the way from Rome. He studies Canon Law at the Gregorian University. This was a very important event of our local Community,
with his experience of His Romanitas and Gregorian Community gave to us a very important push to be more Mercedarian and more priestly people for the sake of the local faithful that we are serving for the past few years.
For the past 10 years or so, the Mercedarians of the present Community were present at Focus 11, first at Christ the King Church and then to St. Lawrence Church. This included spending a couple of days to help out the sixth graders and the eleven graders to start to think about a particular Vocation to the Priesthood, Religious Life, Married life, or single life, our table of the Mercedrians was well prepared with much Vocational materials with the great assistance of some members of our local Third Order.
bene fr t....salutissimi to you all...........