As you know, February 5th when I reach 75 years of age, I must submit my retirement letter to the Holy Father. Until my successor, as the 11th Ordinary of the Diocese of St. Augustine, is named by the Holy Father, I am pleased to continue as your Bishop.
I look back on some concrete, tangible, accomplishments that have occurred during these years. All have been possible because of the generosity of the faithful — the restoration of our Cathedral Basilica, the long-needed renovation of Marywood Retreat Center, and the emphasis we have been able to give to the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at the Mission Nombre de Dios.
Our parishes have grown. We have acquired properties for future needs of new parishes in areas that are slated to grow in the coming decade. We have been able to open additional early learning centers. We have made a new commitment to expand Catholic cemetery possibilities throughout the diocese. None of this would have happened without the extraordinary generosity of our donors.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment has been the success of the Bishop’s Annual Stewardship Appeal. When I arrived, vocations to the priesthood had grown from 8 to 18, and there were no funds available to provide for their education and proper formation. The Bishop’s Appeal has enabled us to provide for the education of our future priests — which number 22 today. It also enabled our Diocese to provide its share — $2,000,000 — towards renovation and expansion of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. This seminary can now and in the future, accommodate the increase in vocations across the Florida dioceses.
Less concrete and not easily quantified are the other priorities that the faithful have supported which will, I believe, in time have significant and lasting effects for generations to come. We have been able to extend assistance to small parishes in rural areas — especially among the Hispanic community as we have sought to ensure that the Gospel is proclaimed to them and they are included in a parish. You have enabled us to be certain that the Catholic Faith remains vibrant everywhere in our diocese.
These efforts, too, have been possible because of your attachment to the Church, your generosity, and your stewardship. You have also enabled Catholic Charities to serve a large population of the poor and to assist in adoption services.
When I became the 10th Bishop of St. Augustine, I was deeply humbled. Imagine presiding over a diocese which has within its territory the site of the first Mass celebrated in this great country. As a teenager, I was fortunate to be whisked out of an oppressive dictatorship and insurrection in Cuba. My own family and I were probably initially unwanted immigrants in a foreign land, however, as a young immigrant, I discerned a vocation to serve the Catholic Church in the United States.
The strength of the Catholic Church in America has come from a strong continuum of immigrants from across the globe. As we pray in Eucharistic Prayer II, we ask God to watch over the church spread throughout the world.
Looking back — and still today — I marvel at the providence of God.
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Bishop Felipe J. Estevez, S.T.D.
In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde(“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes St. Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows. The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To celebrate the anniversary, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St Joseph,” beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the same feast in 2021.
Church Grants Plenary Indulgence for Year of St. Joseph The Apostolic Penitentiary issued a decree granting special indulgences for the duration of the special year to celebrate the anniversary and “to perpetuate the entrustment of the whole Church to the powerful patronage of the Custodian of Jesus.” Plans are underway in the diocese for the Year of St. Joseph. More news will be shared shortly. In the meantime, visit the diocesan website at https://www.dosafl.com/yearofstjoseph/for resources on St. Joseph.
Week of June 22, 2020
As we continue to celebrate daily and weekend Masses in the gymnasium, there are still 5 important things for our parishioners and visitors to keep in mind:
You must bring your own chair or blanket – no seating is provided.
Masks are required for entry to the gym and will not be provided by the parish. You must wear a cloth mask or suitable face covering throughout the entire Mass, except when consuming Holy Communion.
Holy Communion will be in the form of the Precious Body only and will be received in the hand only.
Physical distancing guidelines will be followed, which may mean that since space in the gym is limited, a Mass could be full and closed until the next scheduled Mass.
Bishop Estevez has indefinitely dispensed the faithful from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice. This dispensation is encouraged for those with underlying health concerns that put them at risk, and for those who care for such people.
More information can be found on this website and in our online bulletin.