This time of year, one often spends some time at the boundary of the past and the present. We look to the past and from that view we make New Year’s resolutions. We might look to the past and see what needs to be done as we move ahead in time. “Time” magazine helps us look to the past in its annual accounting of famous people who have passed away in the year. And sometimes in the same swath of days, we refresh our newly minted calendars with dates of celebration for all the events of the living.
As pastor I do the same thing personally but also with eyes for the parish. Certainly, Sacred Heart has a long and illustrious past. Do you know the year the parish was founded? It was 1860! Originally named St. Louis, they worshipped in a small wood-frame structure. The name was changed in 1905 upon dedication of the current church – the same year the old Federal Courthouse (now Le Meridien) was opened. There are lots of stories, characters, and memories in the intervening years. There is also a lot to look forward to as the downtown core of Tampa changes, change comes to Tampa Heights, Wellswood, Riverside Heights, South Seminole Heights, and all areas of the parish.
It was almost 9 years ago that I was appointed pastor. Only a blink in the history of the parish, but even in these few short years there has been lots of change. When I became pastor, I noticed that we did not have any parish-wide social events, gatherings, picnics or the like – and certainly we as a parish are called to be “family” even as we are called to be faithful. So, I suggested we have “picnic” in the summer and “gala” in the autumn – something to bring the community together from our 150+ zip codes. In time, this gem of an idea has become fixtures on the parish calendar of events: our “Family Fall Festival” in October and our “Parish Gala” in February. Through the efforts of amazing volunteers, both have grown into wonderful, fun-filled events.
In the autumn of 2018, the parish leadership proposed the “True North” vision in which we would evolve the North Campus into the Center of Families, Faith, and Ministries. The parish response was positive, and support began to grow to see if we could organically “live our mission” even as we tried to “build our future.” One family came forward to support the parish and True North vision in a major and fun way. Jill and Troy Manthey offered to host our “Parish Gala” on their Yacht Starship, a 600-passenger dinner cruise ship, the jewel of their fleet. And so, in February 2019 we “went to sea” as a parish and had a fantastic evening of fellowship and fun. If you weren’t there, you should’a been!
Part of the Manthey’s vision was to assist the parish to move towards an annual fundraiser for the parish and especially the True North vision. If our parish goal was to avoid a capital campaign to raise the major funds that will ultimately be needed over time, they wanted to facilitate the goal, bring the parish together for a common cause – and have an evening of fun along the way. Their donation of the ship, its operation, the libations, the entire dinner, the entertainment – everything – is a major gift on their part. They are “all in” and have made it possible for all of us to join the commitment.
And so…this year we are moving from the idea of social gathering/gala to a “fundraising” party and celebration of our future. The goal is financial support for the development of our North Campus to support the coming wave of growth in our parish. Next week, as we begin to promote the event, you will see changes from galas of the past as we move towards parish fundraising: higher ticket prices, new exciting types of silent auction items, a raffle opportunity for some truly premier vacation opportunities, and more. We want to leverage and build upon the amazing gift that the Manthey family has provided to the parish – and we are asking you along for the journey as we again “set sail” on our Destination: True North.
Mark your calendars now: 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28!