Message from Founding Mission Coordinator - Ondina Hernandez
The very first Mass celebrated at Mision Santa Maria took place on December 23, 2001. We had no building; instead we were surrounded by beautiful, tall trees. Electricity was "borrowed" from a neighbor and the use of a bathroom was facilitated by the same family that allowed us to make hot chocolate and coffee to offer after the Mass. Including 14 people from the community, 70 persons attended that Mass. They were from St. Mary, St. Paul, Nativity, Corpus Christi and from the Spanish Cursillo Movement.
It was a very humble beginning but a gigantic step to fulfill the vision of our pastor at that time, Fr. Bob Morris, to provide a place of worship to the Hispanic population of the area. Within a few weeks we were providing blankets, toys for the children and anything donated that was useful to the needy ones. The original vision evolved into something else: we were there for the whole community. Limited by having only a shed, 8 x 10, but with a great surplus of volunteers and generous donors, we became the place where nobody was judged and everybody was welcome.
On March of 2005 our building was completed and our goals and accomplishments have only grown. Personally, I am very proud of two of them: first, we can honestly say that WE ARE A DIVERSE COMMUNITY with one common objective, to serve. On any given Tuesday you can find volunteers from St. Mary working next to the ones from St. Timothy or St. Paul, serving people with different languages, color, culture, age, and religious affiliation. Second, we are self supporting. Because of many volunteers, the landscaping, building upkeep, cleaning, RCIA, faith formation and even the cooking every Tuesday is done FREELY. Our Sunday collection is taken seriously. Time, talents, and treasure are generously given to our beloved Mision.
Because of your continuous support, which started even before that memorable Mass on December of 2001, the presence of St. Mary Parish has been deeply felt by the community of Mision Santa Maria, and I take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the families and individuals that we have touched. May the Lord continue to grant us His Grace so we may continue in our journey of faith. I wish every one of you many blessings and my most sincere gratitude.
The vision of Santa María Mission of St Mary Catholic Church is to make present the Church to the most dispossessed people, which for economic or geographic reasons lack the possibilities to come to her.
It is to bring the Church, the mystical body and the mission of Christ to the community. A Church that announces the message of salvation; a Church that shows the love of Jesus through her pastoral care, fulfilling the people's social and religious needs.
History of Santa Maria Mission
Founded in 2001, by St. Mary Catholic Church, the Santa María Mission was formed to aid the Hispanic immigrants settled in the North Tampa-USF area. Our first Eucharistic Celebration was on December 23 of 2001, making reality the vision of Father Bob Morris, Pastor of St. Mary, who scouted the area also known as "Suitcase City" and realized that most of the population was Hispanic with a strong catholic tradition and with no means of transportation to attend a catholic church. He decided then that instead of transporting them in small groups, the Church should be brought to them. St. Mary Parish through the Santa María Mission has provided health screening, flu shots, vaccinations and school supplies for children, Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, etc., and created partnerships with among others: the Sheriff's Department, Foot Print Ministries, Catholic Charities, and the Nativity Outreach Program, providing aid in the way of donated food, clothing, toys, cookware, furniture, medical attention, etc, to hard working families that earn less than minimum wage. It has provided outdoor church service every Sunday, rain or shine. At this moment the Sunday services are provided in the St Mary's family center while waiting for the construction of the Temple. Our Mass celebration have been at times more than 400 participants. The project has been so intense that the permanent staff of St Mary has increased, including now a Parish Nurse and a Mission Coordinator. And empty acre of ground on North 15th Street and a 142nd Avenue was donated for the mission. Currently, it contains one small shed and a portable toilet. Donations of usable items are received at this location and also at St Mary Parish which are given to the needy people of the community, regardless of their religious affiliation, origin or race. A multi-purpose building is planned for the site and most of the money has already been donated by parishioners of St Mary for the construction of this building. Despite of the lack of a permanent structure, the generosity of many has helped this community in a very dignified way. Best of all, it has taught them that people do care for others and there is always a willingness to make a difference.
Proposito de la Misión
La Visión de la Misión Santa María Por la Iglesia Catolica de Santa Maria, es hacer presente la Iglesia a las personas desposeidas, que por razones economicas o geograficas, no tienen la posibilidad de venir a ella.
Es traer a la Iglesia el cuerpo mistico y la misión de Cristo a la comunidad. Una Iglesia que anuncia el mensage de salvación; una Iglesia que enseña el amor de Jesús atraves de del cuidado pastoral, satifaciendo a las necesidades sociales y religiosas de la gente.
Historia De La Misión Santa María
Fundada en el año 2001, por La Iglesia Católica Santa María, la Misión Santa María fue fundada para ayudar a los imigrantes hispanos que se han trasladado a la area norte de Tampa. Nuestra primera celebracion eucaristica fue celebrada el dia 23 de Diciembre, del año 2001, y con ella se hizo realidad la vision del padre Bob Morris, Pastor de la Iglesia Catolica Santa Maria. El exploró el area la cual tambien es conozida como "Suitcase City", y se dio cuenta que la mayoria de la población era hispana, con una fuerte tradicion Catolica, y sin metodo de transportacion para asistir a una Iglesia Catolica. El decidio que en vez de llavar a la gente en grupos pequeños a la Iglesia, era major traerle la Iglesia a ellos.
La parroquia de Santa María, atravez de la Misión Santa María ha proveido programas de salud cuyos ofrecen bacunas y examenes generales. Tambien ha proveido materials escolares, regalos de navidad, de Easter, y del dia de accion de gracias. Ella tambien se ha associado con diferente organizaciones, como el departamento de la policia, el ministerio de las huellas, Caridades Catolicas, y el programa de "Outreach" de la Iglesia de natividad, cuyos ofrecen ayudas con donaciones de comidas, ropas, juguetes, oyas de cosinas, furnituras, y atención medica, a familias de bajos recursos y que ganan menos de el sueldo minimo. Ella tambien ha proveido servicios al aire libre todos los domingos, bajo la lluvia y el sol.