1960s - The Beginning Years
It was the year 1960. The country was in the midst of a presidential election, and for only the second time in U.S. history, a Catholic candidate was running for the highest office in the land. Within a month, John F. Kennedy would be elected president by the slightest of margins.
The world was in the throes of a Cold War – the forces of democracy locked in a political, strategic and ideological battle against Communism. The threat of nuclear war was ever present. (Back yard bomb shelters were a hot item.) Fidel Castro had come into power a year previously and already people were fleeing his regime. Gradually, Fidel’s communism and his ties to the Soviet Union became more apparent and there was the frightening realization that the Cold War had come to Florida’s doorstep.
On the scientific front, in 1957, the Russians had upstaged the west by launching a tiny satellite called "Sputnik" into outer space. The Space Race was on! And in Central Florida, while scientists were trying to play "catch-up" at Cape Canaveral, representatives of what would become Martin-Marietta Corp. were buying a huge tract of land in South Orlando as a site for the development of rockets and launchers for military and civilian purposes. Central Florida’s role as a key player in the space age was assured. Interstate 4, a brand new highway linking Florida’s east and west coasts, ran directly through the center of the region facilitating the influx of tourists, new businesses and new residents.
In the Catholic Church, a new pope was charming the world with his warmth and simplicity. John XXIII, a large jovial man with a pastor’s heart, had quickly dispensed with many of the regal trappings of the papacy. He had been elected in 1959 upon the death of his predecessor, the austere and autocratic, Pius XII. At 75 years old, John XXIII was considered to be an "interim" pope who probably wouldn’t live long enough to accomplish much.
Relatively speaking there weren’t many Catholics in Central Florida. It was part of the Diocese of Saint Augustine led in 1960 by Archbishop Joseph Edward Hurley, a man who providentially anticipated the future growth of the Orlando area and early on purchased a great deal of the land for future parishes.
One of those parishes was the Church of the Nativity, created more in anticipation of a need than because of one. It was established to serve the Lake Mary area, and its territory was formed by subdividing neighboring parishes of St. Mary Magdalen and All Souls in Sanford.
Nativity’s first pastor, Father William Trainor, was born in Brooklyn, but ordained in Ireland for the Diocese of St. Augustine. Father Trainor had been an assistant pastor at St. James in Orlando before receiving the challenging but exciting assignment to be the founding pastor of a new community.
It must have been a daunting task. Some original parishioners admit that they were not too happy about leaving All Souls, where they were involved and quite happy. Others remember being part of a census team knocking on doors in an effort to locate all Catholics in the area.
Beginning on October 23, 1960, Sunday Mass was celebrated at 8:00 and 10:00 AM at the Lake Mary community center (later the Chamber of Commerce Building) on Country Club Road. Building a church would obviously be a top priority requiring serious fundraising.
But well before a building could be constructed, a community of faith was being formed. Quite early on, the Catholic Women’s Club of Lake Mary was started and a Men’s Group shortly followed. Vatican II, with its vast liturgical changes and empowerment of the laity, was just around the corner, though no one knew it at the time. There were no Lectors or Eucharistic Ministers and certainly no Parish Council. Still the people gathered to do what needed to be done. Some made vestments and cared for them. Julie Scott opened her home to serve as a nursery during Mass. Many were involved in myriad forms of fundraising.
Toi Fitzpatrick recalls that when they arrived for Midnight Mass that first Christmas Eve in 1960, they found the building locked and dark as they waited out in the cold for Father to arrive. From that time on, someone always took responsibility for arriving early to unlock and set up for mass.
Becoming a parish, like so many things in life, was a gradual process – with many milestones along the way. On February 28, 1961, the formal decree was promulgated whereby the All Soul’s mission in Lake Mary officially became the canonical parish of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
By Christmas that same year, Father Trainor announced plans to begin constructing a parish church. Coincidentally, this was the same month that Pope John XXIII announced his momentous decision to convene an Ecumenical Council of all the world’s bishops – for purposes of updating and re-orienting the church in relation to the modern world.
Ground breaking for the new church took place in early February 1962, a ceremony attended by 200 parishioners.
A large tract of land had been purchased on C.R. 427, near 17/92. Ed Checefsky recalls that the property was so heavily wooded that even after construction began, nothing could be seen from the road to indicate a building in progress. Nativity came to be known as "the little church in the woods."
The term "little" was appropriate. According to the press release in the Sanford Herald, "The church, when ready, will seat 300 persons and part of the building will serve as a parish hall. Air conditioning and heat units are in the plans." The new church was ready for occupancy by summer, but the first Mass, on July 29, 1962 was celebrated before the installation of pews, carpet, or air conditioning!
The formal dedication Mass took place on October 11, 1962 – a historic day for the parish and the world, since it was the very same day that the Second Vatican Council was opening in Rome. Father Trainor had obviously chosen the date quite deliberately. The parish bulletins in weeks prior featured a prayer for the success of the council, and urged parishioners to subscribe to the Florida Catholic so they would know what was going on in Rome.
One might say that Nativity was a Vatican II parish from the outset. However, since the liturgical changes enacted by the council had not yet come about, that dedication Mass was no doubt celebrated in Latin, in a sanctuary surrounded by an altar rail. Who knew that within a few years it would have to be removed, and a new altar installed – so that the priest could say Mass facing the people?
With its own place for worship and fellowship, parish programs and activities could now expand to include daily Mass, a weekly Novena service, and a choir. The parish bulletin notes a weekly "social hour" on Wednesday evenings and coffee and doughnuts after Sunday Masses began as early as 1963. The parish festival also dates back to those early years.
Religious instruction for children in public schools (most went to Catholic school, it seems) had been held at All Soul’s in Sanford, and only gradually moved to Nativity.
It was probably the name of the new parish that gave rise to the idea of having a living Nativity scene at Christmas time – complete with live animals. Parishioners took turns performing in the various roles from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day. For the Stankiewicz family, that even included their infant son Timmy as baby Jesus. Many years later, Timmy performed as Joseph in a similar production.
In February 1964, Father Trainor was transferred, and for the next several years the turnover of priests was quite rapid – averaging about one a year. Those were difficult times.
The Sanford Naval Air Station, an important part of the local community, closed in July 1967. The aircraft based there were being phased out. Many Nativity parishioners were active duty military or civilian employees of the base, and the parish lost about 50 families as a result. Soon after, the creation of St. Augustine parish in Casselberry resulted in an additional reduction in the census and in the revenues needed to pay off the parish debt.
But 1967 was also the year that Archbishop Hurley invited the priests of the Society of the Precious Blood to serve at Nativity, which proved to be a blessing to our parish for more than 4 decades.
And in 1968, more good news – The Diocese of Orlando was created and William D. Borders was installed as its first bishop. Nativity would now have close access to the resources and services a diocesan staff could provide.
The first pastor from the Precious Blood community, Father Cyril Kennedy, C.PP.S, was also at Nativity just briefly, from 1967 to 1968. It was he who was responsible for organizing the first Parish Council.
During Father Kennedy’s brief tenure, the church was plagued with several incidents of vandalism resulting in significant damage to the interior of the church and social hall. In the final and most serious episode, the tabernacle itself was removed from its stand. Father Neidert, who was already in Orlando and about to become Nativity’s next pastor, described the gravity of the situation in a letter to his family and friends.
"On the night of August 19, three vandals broke in and really tore the place up – Hall and Church. They ruined paint on the walls and ceiling, used candles to see and dripped wax over floors, carpets, and some on the pews. They took every crucifix, about 8 of them, broke open the Oil Stocks, Baptistry, took the Tabernacle off its Altar and set it on the Altar of Sacrifice. They found the keys to the Baptistry and to the Tabernacle in the Sacristy. They may have opened the Tabernacle, but it was left locked and the hosts not disturbed.
"Father Kennedy called me and I saw the "mess" about 10 in morning of the 20th. The Bishop arrived shortly after, about noon, and he was visibly "shook-up". What scared the Bishop most was the near desecration of the Blessed Sacrament."
Until that time Nativity’s priests had lived in rented homes in the area. Father Kennedy was living on CR427 in the home that is currently a State Farm Insurance agency, well away from the parish grounds. Father Neidert reported: "The Bishop immediately, on the spot, gave orders that a Rectory be built as soon as possible at the Church."
This was gladly done. Apparently the priests had been discussing the need for a rectory/office, but didn’t feel the parish could afford it. The new home, which has since been converted to parish offices, was built essentially at cost by a parishioner/contractor.
In Father William Neidert, Nativity finally had the stability of a long-term pastor. He served from 1968-1976, and remained in residence for several years thereafter. His influence in shaping the spirit of the parish can hardly be overestimated. By all accounts he appears to have had the precise combination of experience, wisdom, abilities, and personality that were needed by the struggling young parish. It was an extremely good fit. He loved the people and the people loved him.
Fr. Neidert was a seasoned pastor. By the time he came to Nativity, he had already served the church in Ohio, Wyoming, and his home state of Tennessee, and just prior he had been pastor at St. Andrew’s in Orlando. A skilled carpenter and gardener, he was not afraid of hard work. One man recalled that Father Neidert would ask you to come at 8 a.m. on a Saturday to help with a project, and you would get there to find him already an hour into the task at hand. In lean times, the garden was not just an enjoyable hobby. It provided needed food for the table. Times were so tough initially that, according to a Parish Council member, the parish petitioned and received relief from some its financial obligations to the diocese.
But Father Neidert’s self-described first love was liturgy, and unlike some of his peers, he welcomed and even anticipated the changes brought on by Vatican II. In an interview just before he retired, he admitted that well before the official approval was given, he had had a "roll-away altar" constructed, so that he could say Mass facing the people (and hide it afterwards). And when he heard a little girl refer to the altar railing as "the fence," he knew that this barrier separating clergy and laity had to come down. It was he who initiated the longstanding Nativity tradition of adults being "master servers" at the liturgy.
Those were the heady years of guitar Masses and felt and burlap banners, when the new spirit of Vatican II was sweeping through the church with a force that some found energizing and invigorating, and others disruptive and disconcerting. The laity were coming into their own, serving as Lectors, then Eucharistic Ministers – an awesome concept when just a few years previously the only non-clergy allowed in the sanctuary were those in the Ladies’ Altar Society who cleaned and arranged flowers. "Lay ministry" was the new buzzword.
Many parishioners attest to Father Neidert’s empowerment as they developed their ministry skills. Adella Barca recalls that as a new widow, he encouraged her to get involved and under his guidance Laurel Checefsky organized CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) and later a ministry to the sick.
1970s - A Time of Growth
When the parish ran out of room for Religious Education classes, a work party led by Father Neidert enclosed the rectory carport and added six classrooms to the north side of the church.
By 1972, the parish had grown sufficiently to warrant additional staffing. Brother Bernard (Bernie) Barga, C.Pp.S came to serve as Director of Religious Education, and to endear himself to the people of Nativity. He held the first Vacation Bible School, right in the church, and sponsored an ecumenical "singsperation" during the Holy Year, 1975.
1973 was a banner year! It was the 40th anniversary of Father Neidert’s ordination – celebrated with much gusto and creativity. "Priest Guilty in Kangaroo Court," the Florida Catholic headline (May 25, 1973) read. "Father Neidert was taken completely by surprise…when policemen came to his door and spirited him away under the pretense of an emergency for which a priest was needed."
They brought him to All Souls Parish Hall for a mock trial in which he was found guilty of "demonstrating a super-human amount of vigor and stamina, combined with a keen sense of, and mental ability for, progress and change; of possessing a deep feeling and compassion for his fellow human beings that would challenge a man half his age." His sentence for these egregious offenses was a three-week trip to Rome and Lourdes and $200 in spending money.
1973 was also the year that the parish conducted a unique Lenten program (featured in the Florida Catholic) in which parish families nailed photos of themselves on a large wooden cross. Each family was to pick a photo and pray for help, and get to know their chosen family. The program concluded with a parish banquet, at which guests were to first feed each other before eating on their own.
Christmas 1975 – The Grinch comes to Nativity. One of the "crimes" Father Neidert had been convicted of was "planting a forest of cedar trees on the grounds – even as the parish was trying to clear the land." One of his prime specimens was being groomed to serve as the parish Christmas tree. But on the morning of December 9, the Grinch struck! The tree disappeared – chopped down at ground level!! When the Lake Mary community learned of this dastardly deed, the parish was swamped with offers of replacement trees – and Christmas came after all!
Meanwhile, the parish census had slowly but surely been growing, according to Brother Bernie, "at a rate of 4 families per week." In 1970 Walt Disney World had opened south of Orlando, and the rest, as they say, is history. The demographics of Central Florida would never be the same again – even in far away little Lake Mary. The Sunday Mass schedule had been expanded and enrollment in the Religious Education program continued to grow. Nativity was becoming predominately a parish of young families.
1976, the parish’s 15th anniversary, was a year of transition. Father Neidert retired as pastor, but remained in residence. The new pastor, Father Leo Fullenkamp, C.Pp.S, arrived in August, 1976 – but once again Nativity experienced an extremely brief pastorate. Father Fullenkamp left for health reasons in January, 1977.
Brother Bernie was also reassigned and parishioners bid him a sad farewell. The new Director of Religious Education was the first – and thus far the only – religious sister to serve at Nativity. St. Ann Englert, O.P., a member of the Adrian Dominicans was to remain at Nativity for 21 years – far longer than any staff member to date – a fact which accounts for her tremendously formative role in the parish’s religious education programs. Sister Ann came to Nativity with considerable teaching experience and had studied Post Vatican II theology at Catholic University.
Sister Ann was to serve a dual role as Director of Religious Education and Pastoral Associate in 1976. This was a new term and a new concept, that someone other than a priest could share in the pastoral responsibility to minister to the sick, the homebound, and the dying, and could be part of a "pastoral team."
Accompanying Sister Ann was Sister Lucy Vazquez, O.P., a fellow Dominican, and canon lawyer. Though she worked on the Diocesan staff as head of the Marriage Tribunal, Nativity was also Sister Lucy’s parish. She taught adult education classes every Sunday and helped in what was then a new ministry – the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
During the pastorate of Father Clement Kuhns, C.Pp.S, from 1977-1983, Nativity parish had to face the reality that a church designed to seat 300 people was no longer adequate for a congregation of almost 500 families.
1980s - The Expansion Years
The parish was thriving and Sister Ann could accurately say that nearly 100% of parish children were enrolled in the Religious Education program. The challenge was finding space for all of them. Parents of children preparing for First Communion and First Reconciliation came to classes for a full year along with their children, a tradition that continues to this day.
In 1980 Brother George Blackney, C.Pp.S joined the Pastoral team as Director of Music and Liturgy.
Nativity parish was doing its best to welcome and minister to the increased number of people coming to its doors. That included going out into the homes of parishioners for infant baptism preparation and also for family liturgies. This approach proved highly effective in enabling people to feel personally connected to the Church. In a Florida Catholic interview (February 13, 1987) parish leaders affirmed that "The family and community spirit in the parish is its greatest asset."
That same article stated that the parish was conducting a fund raising drive "to renovate and enlarge the present church and to provide for a growing number of children seeking religious education." Obviously those plans changed along the way. For on June 5, 1983 a Florida Catholic headline announced NATIVITY BREAKS GROUND FOR A NEW CHURCH! "Father Kuhns led the congregation from the "present" church to the site for the new church." The ground was blessed, then officially broken.
But Father Kuhns was not to see the project to completion. By October 1983, Nativity once again had a new pastor, Father James Seibert, C.Pp.S "Father Jim, who had never been a pastor before, inherited the responsibility for seeing the church construction through to completion. In keeping with Nativity tradition, parishioners pitched in to do the landscaping and Father Jim was 'everywhere'."
When Father Neidert fully retired in 1984, Father Edward Zukowski, C.Pp.S joined the staff of Nativity in a semi-retired status, after 26 years as a pastor.
Finally the great day arrived! With much joy and festivity the new church, filled to capacity, was dedicated by Bishop Thomas Grady on September 23, 1984. Not to break completely with tradition, cherished items from the original church – such as the wooden statues of Mary and Joseph, were brought into the new worship space. The new worship space was twice the size of the old and could seat up to 550 people – but already the census had reached 700 families, 200 more in the short time since the discussion of a new church had begun. But if exponential growth was to continue into the future, Nativity was ready. The new church was designed for expansion with side walls that could be opened up to allow for up to 250 more seats.
On Pentecost Sunday, May 18, 1986, Nativity had something else to celebrate. This time it was a mortgage burning. Thanks to the generosity of the people and to Father Seibert's expertise in financial management, the entire $750,000.00 cost of the church was paid in full.
1986 was the parish’s 25th anniversary; a time to look back with much gratitude, and look forward with muchhope. Bishop Grady celebrated Mass in the parish on December 27 and called the parishioners "a very active dedicated group of people."
Meanwhile, another building project was already well underway. The former church building was being renovated and converted to its present use as a Parish Center. Also being built were much-needed additional classrooms for religious education. For the first time since she had arrived in 1976, Sister Ann would have a sufficient number of classrooms.
Since the building of the new church in 1983, building projects have virtually been a constant at Nativity. Soon after the completion of the Parish Center, the need for adequate office space led to the decision that, once again, Nativity’s clergy would live off the parish grounds. The original rectory could then be converted to an administration building. But this was a different kind of venture.
In an interview with the Florida Catholic, Father Jim described it this way, "The church paid for the materials but all of the labor came from the time and talents of the parishioners. We had painters, carpenters, architects, concrete people, and interior designers from our own congregation who volunteered to get the job done, and they did."
Nativity parish was not only growing, it was maturing as well – deepening its commitment to stewardship and embracing the Vatican II vision that the Church as the People of God and that all the people share in its mission.
1990s - A Time for Stewardship
The number of ministries grew, as did the numbers of people involved in them. In 1994, for example, Father Seibert commissioned 120 catechists to teach in the Religious Education program.
In response to Nativity’s continued growth in numbers of parishioners, the size of the clergy and lay staff also increased during Father Seibert’s pastorate. Father Angelo Anthony, C.Pp.S, who would later become the Provincial Director of the Precious Blood Community, came to the parish in 1989, shortly after being ordained. He delighted everyone with his gift of song and his warm personality. Unfortunately, he proved to be allergic to much of Florida’s flora and fauna and simply had to leave after about a year. Then came Father Matthew Jozefiak, C.Pp.S who would remain until 1994, at which time Father Henry L. Frantz, C.Pp.S known to all as "Father Hank" arrived on the scene. 1994 also brought Father Norbert Adelman, C.Pp.S to Nativity. Father Norb, in his semi-retired status, provided his witness of faith and warmth to all.
Before too long, the wisdom of having designed the church with "room to grow" became apparent. The parish census continued to climb reaching 1,500 families by 1994. It was time to expand. This would require moving back into the Parish Center for all parish worship while the work took place.
Father Seibert got the project started, but once again a task begun by one pastor was to be completed by another. The building committee consisting of Bill Kramer, John Sofarelli, Frank Cannon, Gavin Duffy and Jo Ann Kauffman provided much needed continuity during the time of transition. Bill Kramer, who is also building coordinator for the Diocese, remembers "I had more hats than I could count."
Nativity’s next pastor, Father Ken Schnipke, C.Pp.S, arrived in January 1995. Once again the Lord had provided what was needed. A young priest, rare these days, Father Ken has the valuable combination of both practical administrative skills and visionary leadership. Like his predecessors he was a diligent worker who seemed equally at home behind a shovel, a desk, or a pulpit.
When Father Ken arrived, the design work had largely been done and the implementation phase of working with contractors and artisans was ready to begin. In addition to increasing the seating capacity, the expansion also added an overflow space, a chapel, and rooms for a liturgy office and a religious articles shop. The Narthex was also expanded into a larger community gathering space.
Particularly noteworthy was the beautiful new baptismal font designed for both infant and adult baptisms. It was placed at the sanctuary in full view of the assembly. It has since won an award for excellence in liturgical design.
On Palm Sunday, April 14, 1996, the expanded church was re-dedicated by Orlando’s third bishop Norbert Dorsey, C.P. It was an occasion for great joy and celebration made all the more so because the parish had been able to complete the $1.2 million project without borrowing any funds. Nativity had come of age!!
The people could look back with tremendous pride on all that had been accomplished. It could have been a time to rest on one’s laurels and simply enjoy the fruits of one’s labor, but it was a time to chart a course for the future.
Led by Father Ken, the parish embarked on the exciting process of writing a mission statement and developing a five-year plan of Goals and strategies for implementing it in all areas of parish life. A need assessment and a careful study of parish demographics was an important aspect of the process.
2000s - The Jubilee Year and Beyond
All parish activities and priorities were determined in light of this plan. For example, Renew 2000 was implemented in response to the desire for small group Bible study and faith development programs. Staffing decisions were made in light of the plan resulting in the hiring of a Parish Business Manager and a Coordinator of Adult Education.
In July 2002, Father Benjamin Berinti, C.Pp.S moved across town from St. Andrew Church in Pine Hills to become Pastor of Nativity Church. Fr. Ben, a native of Pittsburgh, PA, brought not only 6 years of experience as a pastor with him, but twelve years of ministry in higher education. This “academic” background of Fr. Ben’s was to be a hallmark of his pastorate, as he encouraged the further development of adult faith formation and spiritual growth opportunities—expanding the parish’s current offerings far beyond where they had been. Fr. Ben also shares the charism of St. Gaspar, the founder of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood, by offering retreats and spiritual renewal throughout the diocese of Orlando.
Upon Fr. Ben’s arrival, he joined the two Precious Blood priests already serving at Nativity Church, Frs. Henry Frantz and Norbert Adelman. Fr. Hank was serving as Senior Associate, while Fr. Norbert was enjoying full-retirement, although his active life in ministry continued to be a great blessing to the parish.
In August 2002, early in his pastorate at Nativity, Fr. Ben reconstituted Parish Pastoral Council by implementing a uniquely inclusive and deliberative process to develop a new “Pastoral Plan”. This formation program, undertaken by the Council, helped to revision and to develop a new way of being a parish “pastoral” council in order to lay the foundation for what would become a wider process of planning and consultation about the mission of the entire Nativity parish community.
An historic “Leadership Council” was convened in March 2003, bringing together in retreat and discussion 70 members of the Parish Pastoral Staff, Parish Pastoral Council, and representatives of the parish’s various ministries and organizations. In August 2003, a yearlong planning and discernment process, led by the Pastoral Council, began and eventually culminated in a 3-year Pastoral Plan to guide the growth and development of the parish’s mission. The Pastoral Plan was formally adopted on May 30, 2004, the Feast of Pentecost.
Since the implementation of the Pastoral Plan in 2004, the past three years have seen visible growth in the life and mission of the parish community as each of the 4 primary goals of the plan have been tackled. Liturgical life has blossomed; new original spiritual artwork enhances the beauty and dignity of the community’s worship; preparation for and the celebration of many of the Sacraments have been integrated into the regular Sunday worship experience.
A full-time youth minister, Jennifer Chellberg has led a renaissance of Youth and Young Adult ministry in the parish; new and exciting programs in Religious Education and faith formation have been undertaken in order to “facilitate conscious ways for Nativity parishioners to build bridges between their family, work and church lives with God at the center.”
Parish outreach to the poor and needy grew by leaps and bounds with dramatic contributions to the Christian Sharing Center, our Sister Diocese in the Dominican Republic, Shepherd’s Hope Longwood Health Clinic, the Precious Blood Missionaries in Guatemala, and the Sanford Crisis Pregnancy Center, to name just a few.
A dramatic reminder of the lack of vocations to the priesthood in the United States took place in June 2007, as Frs. Norbert and Hank formally retired to the C.Pp.S Saint Charles Senior Living Center in Ohio, resulting in Nativity Church now being served by one priest on the pastoral staff.
Throughout the years, Nativity priests and parishioners had enthusiastically embraced the liturgical renewal and lay involvement brought about by Vatican II. That was particularly true of the parish’s last two Precious Blood pastors, Father Ken Schnipke and Ben Berinti, both of whom developed the concept of Pastoral Planning with maximum lay participation in visioning for the parish’s future.
Sadly, due to their order’s shrinking numbers, the Precious Blood community made the difficult decision to withdraw from Central Florida in May of 2008.
But the people of Nativity have learned from experience that God always provides what is needed at the time. July 2008 was a time of transition. Father Tom Barrett became the pastor of Nativity parish on July 1, 2008. Father Tom is from Rhode Island, but came to the Diocese of Orlando to study for the priesthood, and was ordained for this diocese on November 26, 1988. He served as parochial vicar in several diocesan parishes including Our Lady of Hope in Port Orange, Ascension in Melbourne, and Annunciation in Altamonte Springs. In 1994 he became the pastor at Bishop Moore High School, a post he held for twelve years. In 2000, he became the pastor of St. Charles parish in Orlando.
Father Tom has also held numerous Diocesan positions, serving as Director of Vocations, Director of Cemeteries, and Master-of-Ceremonies to the Bishop. Immediately upon his arrival, the parish began its involvement in the Diocesan capital fund drive known as the "Alive in Christ" Campaign. The Campaign’s goal is to raise funds for both diocesan and parish projects. It is the first time in Diocesan history that a Diocesan-wide campaign has been conducted.
No doubt Nativity parishioners will step forward as they always have.
More than 50 years ago, on Christmas Eve in Lake Mary, Florida, a group of strangers huddled in the cold outside the locked Chamber of Commerce Building on Country Club Road, waiting to celebrate the Lord’s birth and the “parish feast day.” Those strangers were the foundation upon which today’s “welcoming community of believers,” who now gather in a beautiful church of their own, announce and celebrate the daily “nativity” of the Lord Jesus Christ through the working of the Holy Spirit alive in their midst.