Historical Accounts

Home Up



Here's an interesting history that relates to the early history of SJV.     From http://www.cmphila.org/newsletter_pages/jubilee_miami.html   The CM Vincentians Eastern Providence web site.

Jubilee In Miami Diocese ... St. Vincent de Paul Parish Contributed by John Kennedy, C.M.

SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL PARISH: BRIEF HISTORY In 1962, Bishop Coleman Carroll saw the need of establishing a new parish in the rapidly growing area of Northwest Miami, just to the east of Hialeah. Providentially, Bishop Hurley, several years before, had purchased for the Diocese a large plot of farmland on 103rd Street, which proved to be an ideal location for the contemplated parish. So the paperwork was done and lines drawn, the new parish was a reality. But no church building or rectory existed yet. Bishop Carroll asked the Vincentians, then administering St. John Vianney Seminary, to staff the parish and they accepted

Father William Harrigan, C.M., was named Pastor, with Fathers John Fitzgerald and Harry Kuhn, also of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) as assistants. These three priests undertook the task of going into a new neighborhood, in a city where none of the three had ever lived, to seek out Catholic residents, find a decent locale for living and celebrating Mass, and building a church. All this, at first, while commuting daily the 17 miles from Vianney Seminary

The job was hard for Father Harrigan, whose health failed after only six months. His successor was a dynamic Missioner with thirteen years of experience in Latin America, Father James Gleason, whose mastery of Spanish was to prove a boon, since the wave of Hispanic immigration to Miami had begun and many Latino families were moving into Northwest Miami. The three priests rented a house on 22nd Avenue to serve as a temporary rectory. Their first Masses were celebrated in the shopping center at 27th Avenue and 79th Street, before being given permission to use the auditorium of Miami Central High School for Sunday services

Meanwhile, work progressed on the property on 103rd Street. Weekends saw groups of enthusiastic new parishioners; men, women, teenagers, clearing the land, removing the remnants of a nursery and pig farm, and deciding, with Diocesan experts, where the church and priests' house should be constructed. On May 10, 1964, ground was broken and a beautiful hexagonal house of worship began to take form

Attracting new parishioners proved not to be as daunting as at first imagined. The first members of the parish became the best recruiters. They combed the area house by house, looking for Catholics and inviting them to join the group. Even without a place to meet, the men formed their Holy Name Society, the ladies their Rosary-Altar. Even the younger members of parish families “got into the act” and setup their own Youth Group, many of whom were to mature into active Catholic lay men and women

The church building, now named in honor of St. Vincent de Paul, the founder of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), was built in nine months. January 23, 1965, was the great day when Bishop Carroll formally dedicated Miami's newest Catholic church, the fourteenth parish in the city

Immediately, St. Vincent de Paul began to function like any normal urban parish. A priority was the religious education of its young people. CCD programs, both on the primary and secondary levels, began under the direction of the Vincentian Daughters of Charity; programs which have instructed thousands of young Miamians in the rudiments and practice of the Holy Faith, and today continue to do so, still under the direction of the same Daughters of Charity. Other activities grew, or were inaugurated: Holy Name Society, Rosary-Altar, St. Vincent de Paul Conference, Catholic Youth Organization, convert and marriage preparation classes, retreats, Cursillo de Cristianidad, and fundraising bazaars and bingo, plus social clubs, parish picnics and dances. In short, a real parish family came into being.

During the eighties, Spanish speaking parishioners became the majority group in the parish. The arrival of Cuban-born Vincentian, Father Jose Sanchez, and of Costa Rican Father Egbert Browne, gave encouragement and impetus to the Hispanics, whose attendance necessitated the scheduling of two Spanish Masses each Sunday

About this time, a third language group also also made its presence known in St. Vincent's: the Haitian Catholics. Their numbers increased rapidly, and their Eucharistic celebrations, animated by their joyous music, became a regular part of the parish Sunday Mass program

This has been but a short overview of the birth, growth, and present state of St. Vincent de Paul Parish. One big change must be noted however: the Vincentians are no longer in charge of the parish. Since they are a missionary order, mobility is very often their policy, rather than permanence in a parish. This was the case when the Vincentian Superiors surrendered St. Vincent's to the Archdiocese of Miami in August, 1997. After thirty-five years, the Vincentians withdrew. Here are the names of the twenty Vincentians who labored there during that time.

Vincentian Pastors:

William Harrigan, James Gleason, William Sweeney, William Grass, David Symes, Egbert Browne ad John Kennedy.

Vincentian Associates

John Fitzgerald, Harry Kuhn, Andrew Mullen, Alfred Pehrsson, James Salway, Toribio Mezquita, Harold Pascal, Thomas Kennedy, John King, George Mullen, Bernard Schimmel, Robert Galchus, Jose Sanchez and Terrence Mooney

From August, 1977, to the present, the Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul has been a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami, the Rev. Hector Gonzalez Abreu. Father Martin Adu was Associate Pastor from 1997 until 1999.

Other links you might be interested in:

(Low Mass)