From the beginning of time to its end, God’s will has been to gather all men and women from all the corners of the earth to share in the redeeming love of His Son, Jesus Christ. Animated by the Holy Spirit, at this point in history, the Church of St. Agatha, as a Community of Faith ‘full’ people, participated throughout its history in this development of God’s plan and will be forever and until the end of the world. It is our honor and joy to offer you, very briefly, some Historical Highlights of our dear Parish of St. Agatha, one of South Florida’s finest congregations.
The Parish was officially established on July 11, 1971, when Father O’Dea was successful in arranging to conduct Masses at the auditorium of Miami Coral Park Senior High School, 8865 S.W. 16 Street.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society was established on August 1, 1971 to take care of the poor, underprivileged and needy of the parish.
The St. Agatha Family Guild met for the first time on October 7, 1971 at the nearby Temple Or Olom, 8755 S.W. 16 Street.
Rabbi Ralph X. Glixman and his congregation were very generous in making it available for this purpose, which created strong bonds and ties that persisted for many years.
Just as “man does not merely live by bread alone”, so must a church’s activities encompass more than the spiritual. St. Agatha’s first social took place on November 20, 1971, with its first Pre-Thanksgiving Dance held in the auditorium of Temple Or Olom.
The first concrete step indicating that a new church would be constructed took place on March 31, 1972, with the signing of the closing papers for the church rectory site at 2035 S.W. 97 Avenue, providing a home base for Father O’Dea and his Associates.
An eight day rectory housewarming was held between April 16-23, 1972, at which time, everyone in the parish became better acquainted. Although this was to be a temporary rectory, Father O’Dea would begin to wonder in the years to come just how temporary things turn out to be as he endeavored to motivate the parish leaders and people to speed up the tentative time table.
Shortly after signing the closing papers for the church rectory the new Parish lost a wonderful lady. Mrs. Beatrice R. Bechamps, who was much more than just the rectory housekeeper, suffered an untimely and accidental death on May 1, 1972.
On May 26-28, 1972, the first gala, carnival and tombola were held on the grounds of St. Dominic Church, 5909 N.W. 7 St.
Another first was realized on October 7, 1972, when the first Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (C.C.D.) classes began at Loyola School, 10375 Coral Way. They were most gracious and generous of their facilities for nearly six years.
We owe them special debt of our appreciation as a parish community.
The second carnival and tombola was held on the grounds of St. Brendan Church, 8725 S.W. 32 Street, from February 16-18, 1973.
Like the first carnival, the second provided another opportunity for the various elements of the Parish community to become better acquainted. At the same time, it proved to be a successful money raising event that provided the new parish with necessary funds to begin other church-related programs.
A special and memoriable event was held on the grounds of St. John M. Vianney College Seminary, 2900 S.W. 87 Avenue, on November 17, 1973. Just as the carnivals and tombolas served to bring the American and Latin cultures together, the serving of various foods, centering around the roasted pig and other Latin dishes, added to bring about many happy moments between the two cultural backgrounds.
On January 27, 1974, there was announced the beginning of the first phase of the parish Building Fund Drive Campaign. This engendered new hope to the parishioners who were growing anxious for specific news that a new church building would soon be built.
A temporary sign was erected at the parish property site on June 22, 1974, across from Florida International University, on S.W. 107 Avenue.
On August 1, 1974, a simple cross was erected on top of the parish sign. The cross was handmade and painted in bright luminescent green, making it visible to anyone traveling along busy S.W. 107 Avenue.
St. John M. Vianney College Seminary was again the site of the famous and wonderfully accepted Bible Vacation Journey, held August 5-9, 1974. It was a week with the Lord in which all communed with Him in a special way. Students and all, were treated to a spiritual meal featuring discussions on the Sacred Scripture.
The Bible Awareness Joyful Hour started on September 26, 1974. These were treatises in seminar form on the life, words and gifts of the Lord Christ.
The Vatican II Documentary series were held at Loyola School, 10375 Coral Way, from December 3-17, 1974.
On October 2, 1975, the Building of Christian Community series took place. This was a three week program held at St. John M. Vianney College Seminary.
On Sunday, February 7, 1976, permission was granted by Archbishop Carroll to mark the First Eucharistic Celebration at the Parish Property site, at 107th Avenue, across from F.I.U., a large number of parishioners attended on that windy and somewhat rainy day, indeed nothing new to our wonderful parishioners. “Una Misa…, Un Ideal…, Una Iglesia…”
On March 1, 1976, still further joy came to the parish. The Parish Center location was made available to the parish at the Tamiami Mall, 8768 S.W. 8 Street. It helped to provide daily and Saturday evening Vigil Masses, along with a place for parish socials and meetings.
St. Agatha Church was honored in a special way on December 5, 1976, when Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy, D.D., then Coadjutor Archbishop, visited and presided at the Masses in the Auditorium.
Fittingly, the good news that permission was granted by Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll to build our church was received on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1976. How happy our Community of Faithful became, and as if overnight a new spirit of hope in the parish prevailed.
The long awaited ceremony of groundbreaking for the new church occurred on Sunday, February 20, 1977, with Monsignor David E. Bushey presiding at this memorable parish event. High winds, which kicked up clouds of dust, added to the festive occasion, as those who had played an important role in the period leading up to this historical moment stepped forward and broke ground with golden shovels. Speech making was brief but inspiring as usual, and it was the specially erected tent, flapping loudly in the wind, that seemed to have the most to say on this long-awaited occasion. Refreshments followed the ceremony and official picture taking, and then each member had a chance to eat a bit of soil that would one day soon become St. Agatha Church. Gusts of wind continued to kick up clouds of dust with evening coming on.
On March 11, 1977, a memorable Friday, Fr. William L. O’Dea, the Pastor, joined the wrecking crew, donned a hard hat to get to the work at hand. Many happy parishioners were on hand, along with the contractor, architect and Father Angel Vizcarra, O.P.; demolition was under way. A bit of frolicking and many happy exchanges of beautiful words took place, as the serious work of removing heavy foundations and walls of existing buildings on the property site proceeded on schedule. There followed what seemed an eternity to all the parish, as parishioners become agonized over the construction of their new church facilities.
On June 21, 1977 Father Francisco Acosta, B.A., was appointed first Associate of St. Agatha and Father Louis C. Roberts, M.A. (Librarian at St. John M. Vianney College Seminary) non-resident priest.
Our Parish Directress of Religious Education, C.C.D., was Mary I. Ahnemann, B.A. Our Parish Secretary was Rita Moeller and our Parish Housekeeper Rosa Mae Wester.
And then, finally, the beautiful church was completed and ready to be occupied. The entire parish rejoiced on that glorious day
The dedication of our new facility took place on Saturday, May 6, 1978. This celebration was presided by Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy. The Parish continued growing at a fast pace.
June 1978-1981. The Reverend Father Pedro Luis Perez was named second Pastor.
In 1978, St. Agatha Parish began planning the construction of a new school.
June 27, 1978 Fr. William L. O’Dea was officially appointed as St. Agatha Catholic Church first Pastor.
On July 4, 1979, Fr. O’Dea was appointed Pastor of the Holy Spirit Church in Lantana, Florida (Diocese of Palm Beach).
June 1981-1987. The Reverend Father Armando Balado was named third Pastor.
The Church established the St. Agatha Catholic School in 1983 providing a vital Campus Ministry to Florida International University.
In August of 1984, St. Agatha School started under the leadership of Father Armando Balado, Pastor and Sister Catherine Olguin, I.H.M., Principal with two kindergarten classes offered in the Parish Hall.
This same year, in November, the Dade County Zoning Department approved plans for construction of a new building for St. Agatha Catholic School.
In March 1985 the Groundbreaking Ceremony to build our school, took place with Auxiliary Bishop Agustin A. Roman
The Reverend Father Felipe J. Estevez was named fourth Pastor on June 17, 1987.
On September 11, 1987 we celebrated the Pastoral visit of His Holiness John Paul II to Miami and especially the Mass celebrated with the boundaries of our parish in Tamiami Park.
A few months after in 1987, Palmer House Residence was inaugurated for the service of our senior citizens.
On June 1, 1996 the Twenty-fifth Jubilee Mass Celebration was held and presided on by Archbishop John C. Favalora, Archbishop of Miami.
The first donation was given on a Marian feast, the first stone was blessed on December 12, 1998, day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, catalyst of the Church in the Americas…another Marian link. The Blessing of the Grounds, the Groundbreaking Ceremony and Solemn Mass, was presided by Auxiliary Bishop Gilberto Fernandez.
The Rite of Dedication and Solemn Mass was held on February 5, 2000 at 3:30 pm. It was on presided by The Most Reverend John C. Favalora, D.D., Archbishop of Miami.
Also present at the Mass were, Bishop Roman, Bishop Wenski, Auxiliary Bishops of Miami, Bishop Rodolfo Valenzuela (the Coadjutor Bishop of Verapaz, Guatemala), Msgr. Hennessy, Msgr. Marin, Msgr. Souckar. a large number of priests, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penellas, Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla and the State Representative, Gaston Cantens.
This same day, Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Florida Dr. Alex Penelas proclaimed this day St. Agatha Catholic Church Day
On July 1, 2001, the Reverend Father Rolando G. Garcia was named fifth Pastor and Mrs. Maria P. Glass, Principal.
January 7, 2004 at 2:00 pm, our Fourth Pastor, now His Excellency Felipe de Jesus Estevez, D.D., was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami at the Cathedral of Saint Mary, Miami, Florida.
His Episcopal motto is: “In finem dilexit eos” – “He loved them to the end” (Jn. 13, 1). On January 11, 2004 he celebrated in our Parish the 11:00 am Mass in English and 1:00 pm Mass in Spanish as the new appointed Auxiliary Bishop. Following the Mass, a grand and elegant reception was offered in his honor at our Parish Hall.