October 28, 2020

90 Years Of History

Holy Spirit Catholic Church – The First 90 Years The first recorded Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be offered in the vicinity of Lake Wales was celebrated in 1915 by Rev. A. Latiolais in the home of Mr. And Mrs. Jacob Kirch at Starr Lake. Father Latiolais came from the Church of the Sacred Heart in Tampa by horse and buggy over sand trails.

At this time, the Most Reverend M. J. Curley was Bishop of St. Augustine, and there was not an established Catholic Church in Polk County. In 1920, Bishop Curley appointed the Rev. M. J. Farley as Pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Lakeland with a mission church in Winter Haven In 1921, the French Colony residence. A beautiful, small church was built on the shores of Lake Helen, Wales, and was months established by a small group of Canadians seeking a winter seven miles east of Lake was known as St. Anne Shrine. Mass was offered there on Sundays during the winter In 1924, the Club of Catholic Women was organized in Lake Wales In 1925, a group of about twenty families gathered to form a building committee for a church Plans were made for a small mission church. However, in 1926 economic conditions had changed during the great so-called real estate “Boom” in Florida. The church plans changed to a masterpiece of Old World architecture On March 13, 1927, impressive ground-breaking ceremonies were held. On December 11, 1927, the Church of the Holy Spirit was dedicated by Bishop Barry, Bishop of St. Augustine. The church was named by Mrs. I. A. Yarnell, who was head of financial fund-raising Newspapers proclaimed Holy Spirit as one of Florida’s most charming and unique small church buildings. It was a mixture of Mediterranean, Mission, and antique Spanish styles with a dome ceiling of sky blue with special lighting effects.

In February, 1928, Father A. J. Salois was appointed first resident pastor. A small frame building nearby was bought to serve as a rectory. It was destroyed by fire in 1942.

In 1929, the Florida boom collapsed causing economic depression in the area. Many Holy Spirit parishioners were unable to meet their obligation, leaving the church with a large debt. The years of depression were hard, and the parish had to work and to seek diocesan help.

From 1930 through 1945, Holy Spirit Parish survived by the parishioners teaching catechism and preparing children for the Sacraments. Priests occupied a temporary rectory on Ninth Street until a permanent one was purchased on Hesperides Road in 1950.

On July 23, 1961, ground was broken for the construction of the Academy of St. William, which was made possible by a $150,000.00 grant from the William P. McDonald Foundation. The Acad-

emy was dedicated under the guidance of Dominican nuns from Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

May 6, 1962. The Academy of St. William opened on September 4, 1962, on

Ground was broken for the Holy Spirit Convent on October 11, 1962. The Convent was blessed by Bishop Hurley on May 3, 1964. In 1968, the Academy of St. William closed, and since then it has been used as an education building for the church. The convent was Philip Neri of the Orlando Diocese, who instructed the lay teachers of the CCD classes and worked in the migrant ministry. Following their reassignment, two Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement were assigned to Holy Spirit occupied by the Sisters of St.

During this same period of time, Vatican II brought about renovations and other changes in the Catholic Church. Mass was changed from Latin to English, altars were turned to face the congrega-

tion, kneeling rails were removed, and women were allowed to take an active role in liturgical vices ser-

In 1968, Pope Paul VI created two new Dioceses of St. Petersburg and Orlando and elevated the Diocese of Miami to a Metropolitan See. The Church of the Holy Spirit was assigned to the Orlando Diocese under the leadership of Bishop William Borders In 1974, the Council of Catholic Women of Holy Spirit celebrated its fiftieth anniversary By 1977, the parish which began with twenty families had grown to 900 registered families excluding winter visitors. In 1978, the present stained glass windows were installed. The number of Masses at the church had increased as well as Masses offered at Nalcrest, Saddlebag, and Indian Lake Estates. In December, 1984, Father Felix Baños was Bronis “Ben” Benesevich, pastor from 1972, was reassigned as Chaplain of the Nalcrest area.

assigned to Holy Spirit Church, and Father Although many families were recognized the need for a larger church, and a pledge drive began in February, 1986. Groundbreaking for the new reluctant to give up their beautiful small church, Father Baños February 22, 1987, and the site was blessed by church on Ninth Street took place IS on Bishop Thomas J. Grady Spanish style church adorned with murals by Jose Agnar Ibañez of Spain.

solemnly dedicated with Bishop On April 10, 1988, the beautiful new Grady presiding. The inside of the church was was On December 4, 1988, ground was broken for the parish center, and used for the first time by the Men’s Club for the parish Sunday morning coffee hours. The parish center was dedicated on November 12, 1989 June 18, 1989, it was on On March 1, 1989, the final Mass was said in the old church. At that time, the keys over to Mrs. Arch Updike, Ir., parishioner, representing the Lake Wales Arts Council. The members of Holy Spirit were pleased that the building would be preserved and remain a historical landmark for the city as an art center were turned Bishop Norbert M. Dorsey was installed as the third Bishop of Orlando on May 25, 1990. His first visit to Holy Spirit Church was in November, 1991, for the first Confirmation to be held in the new church

 

 

 

In 1991, the rectory on Hesperides was sold, and the pastor moved into a home on Sunset Drive, donated by former parishioners Ground was broken for the Holy Spirit Convent on October 11, 1962. The Convent was blessed by Bishop Hurley on May 3, 1964. In 1968, the Academy of St. William closed, and since then it has been used as ar Philip Neri of the Orlando Diocese, who instructed the lay teachers of the CCD classes and worked in the migrant ministry. Following their reassignment, two Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement were assigned to Holy Spirit building for the church. The convent was occupied by the Sisters of St.

 

Father Ben died in 1993, and Father Leo Dobo became chaplain for the Nalcrest area. In 1996, Father Leo bought and remodeled a bank at Nalcrest and established St. Leo the Great Mission.

 

In 1999, Father Leo gave generously of his time, energy, finances, and love to remodel St. William’s Academy. It is a building of parish pride and used for religious instruction of our youth and the many ministries we now have in our church During this same period of time, Vatican II brought about renovations and other changes in the Catholic Church. Mass was changed from Latin to English, altars were turned to face the congrega-

 

tion, kneeling rails were removed, and women were allowed to take an active role in liturgical ser-

 

On a Sunday in March, 2000, Father Banos had a mortgage burning ceremony at all the Masses, but one more project needed to be completed before his retirement. This was the stained glass windows in the sanctuary, the Marion windows in the chapel, and a Pentecost window over the front entrance. These were soon installed and paid for through the generosity of parishioners. Holy Spirit Parish was debt free for the very first time. Father Banos retired in December, 2000.

 

vices In 1968, Pope Paul VI created two new Dioceses of St. Petersburg and Orlando and elevated the Diocese of Miami to a Metropolitan See. The Church of the Holy Spirit was assigned to the Orlando Diocese under the leadership of Bishop William Borders By 2000, the parish had 1,200 registered families served by Father Frank Cerio and assisted by Father John Ollivier from October through May, Father Leo Dobo at St. Leo the Great Mission Deacon Donald Raymond, and Deacon John Avery.

 

In 1974, the Council of Catholic Women of Holy Spirit celebrated its fiftieth anniversary By 1977, the parish which began with twenty families had grown to 900 registered families, excluding winter visitors. In 1978, the present stained glass win Masses at the church had increased as well as Masses offered at Nalcrest, Saddlebag, and Indian Lake Estates. In December, 1984, Father Felix Baños was assigned to Hol aa Church, and Father Bronis “Ben” Benesevich, pastor from 1972, was reassigned as Chaplain of the Nalcrest area.

 

In 2005, Father Anthony Bluett hired Mrs. Terri Seitz, Faith Formation Director for Children, Youth, and Adults. From 2006 until present day, Terri has coordinated the educational programs at Holy Spirit for grades Pre K through adult education, bcth English and Spanish. Other programs established under her guidance include Women’s Retreats, fall and spring, God, Wine, and Cheese,

 

“Why Catholic”, “Meeting Christ In Prayer”, Catholic Women Bible Study, and Lenten Series.

 

installed. The number of Holy Spirit Parish in 2017 and beyond has ongoing activities throughout each year. During Lent, there are Stations of the Cross on Friday, including Living Stations of the Cross by the Youth Group. The Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes sponsor Friday fish fries, and the Seder Meal is held on Monday of Holy Week.

 

Although many families were reluctant to give up their beautiful small church, Father Baños recognized the need for a larger church, and a pledge drive began in February, 1986. Groundbreaking for the new church on Ninth Street took place on February 22, 1987, and the site was blessed by Bishop Thomas J. Grady The Entertainment Committee hosts Italian Night, a St. Patrick’s Day Party, a Harvest Moon Ball, and a Bon Voyage Extravaganza for Snow Birds. Every First Friday of the Month, Father David Vargas, pastor since April, 2016, conducts an informal religious discussion during a breakfast social the parish center. The Church holds a Parish Picnic for everyone each year in November.

 

On April 10, 1988, the beautiful new Spanish style church was solemnly dedicated with Bishop Grady presiding. The inside of the church was adorned with murals by Jose Agnar Ibañez of Spain.

 

On December 4, 1988, ground was broken for the parish center, and on June 18, 1989, it was used for the first time by the Men’s Club for the parish Sunday morning coffee hours. The parish center was dedicated on November 12,1989.

 

The Diocese of Orlando sponsors a Sister Diocese in the Dominican Republic. Twice a year Sam Updike goes there to work, and over the years has had other parishioners go with him to see God’s plan in action. Every year he encourages anyone who is willing to work for people in need to come along with him.

 

On March 1, 1989, the final Mass was said in the old church. At that time, the keys were turned over to Mrs. Arch Updike, Jr., parishioner, representing the Lake Wales Arts Council. The members of Holy Spirit were pleased that the building would be preserved and remain a historical landmark for the city as an art center As the Church moves toward the 90 th Anniversary in December, the people of Holy Spirit look to the future with hope and anticipation that Our Lord will keep Her safe, secure, and always open to everyone Bishop Norbert M. Dorsey was installed as the third Bishop of Orlando on May 25, 1990. His first visit to Holy Spirit Church was in November, 1991, for the first Confirmation to be held in the new church.

 

CHURCH BULLETIN HISTORY:

 

THE FOUR HISTORIANS:

 

Joann Martin McKenna Joyce Martin McClendon Joyce Gravel Pettus Kathleen Marie Greer Mary L. Luhr DIRECTORY ADVISOR:

 

Nancy Kabacinski