The History of St. Louis Parish - 1990’s
A journey through past bulletins brings backs old memories and kindles new ideas.
One bulletin from the early 1990’s simply stated “He’s back!” to herald the return of Fr. Jim from a 14 week sojourn at the North American College in Rome. His Holy Week letter, an extended “Midnight Musings”, shared some of the benefits of his sabbatical. It concentrated on four major themes: The Week of Weeks in a world of worry; … and in a community of contradictions; …and finding the good that banishes weakness; ….and claims the victory of Jesus over sin, death and mediocrity. Now we would add “brilliant” to his list of accomplishments.
On a lighter level, the parish held a “Fifties Style” Variety Show, Humanities hosted an Easter Egg Hunt and Christmas Project, and in the fall a “Fine Art Exhibition” Frs. Kish and Radloff celebrated their Silver Jubilee on June 2, 1990. In 1991, the Festival moved to February and Fr. Jim accepted his brother Pete’s challenge to lose 30 lbs. by the Festival date. The results of the challenge were not noted. (Editor’s Note: Fr. Fetscher WON!!)
In response to the First Gulf War, we undertook a massive program of prayer for peace in the Middle East listing by name hundreds of brothers and sisters affected by the conflict. Margaret Robinson initiated an Employment Project to help those looking for work, and St Louis hosted the “Church of the Handicapped”.
On Father’s Day 1991, the Vocations Commission, started in 1989, asked us to “Adopt a Priest or Deacon”. 172 people signed up and adopted nuns, brothers and seminarians as well. Our gifted Fr. Roger Radloff, having been diagnosed with cancer in 1988, died in April 1991. He will be long remembered for his splendid homilies every Sunday at the 8:00 a.m. mass. On January 4, 1992, Al Renuart and Bill Diehl were ordained to the Permanent Diaconate and began their ministry to St. Louis. In time both would bring their ministries to western North Carolina and northern Georgia, with a touch of St. Louis (the parish) thrown in.In February 1992, the first Covenant Weekend was held at St. Louis with 32 couples in attendance. The Covenant was written by Bob and Irene Tomonto and Myrna Gallagher at the request of Bishop Agustin Roman to ”help young married couples return to the church.” The weekend had been piloted at St. John Neumann Parish and proved successful for all married couples. The Spanish weekend “La Vivencia Del Convenio” translated from the original by Oskar and Blanca Ruiz, was piloted at St. Louis in 1995. Both versions have been held extensively throughout the U.S. and beyond.
In March of 1992, Bread for the World, a national organization created to affect legislation on world hunger issues, conducted its first letter writing campaign at St. Louis. In June Deacon Julio Solano arrived; in July Deacon Paul Lambert left and returned home to Rhode Island and a new ministry at St. John Vianney Parish in Cumberland. Deacon Julio would be ordained to the priesthood on April 16, 1993. And then came Hurricane Andrew! August 24, 1992, a date etched in the memory of all South Floridians affected the parish to such an extent that there were no bulletins between August 23, and November 1992.Amid the panic of broken homes and shattered and scattered lives, parishioners came together to help, to house, to clean-up and in many cases to say good-bye to their friends and neighbors. The main sanctuary was closed; masses were held in the Family Center, but a small miracle had air-conditioning on after only one weekend. St. Louis had become a Red Cross Relief Center for more than six weeks that might have accounted for power to the building before the neighborhood by nearly four weeks. (Good deeds do count sometimes.) Despite the chaos, St. Louis Pre-School opened its doors in September and three new Deacon Candidates, John Green, Tom Hanlon and Bob Tomonto began their training that August. The kids grew into a “Covenant School” and the men grew into extraordinary servants, ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on December 10, 1994. They had literally braved wind and water to serve the Lord. Deacon Bob Tomonto would pass away in May, 2009.
In 1993, the Archdiocese began broadcasting on WKAT, twelve hours a day. In January 1996 English Language Radio Peace came to St. Louis as ”The Winding Road” began broadcasting on 790 AM from 5 to 6 PM weekdays. Scott Kaldahl, the knowledgeable host, and Phil Carlton, the eloquent announcer, became local celebrities as they interviewed priests, parishioners and radio guests many of whom were from the parish. Ministries at the time demonstrated the depth and diversity of the people. Besides traditional ministries necessary for good liturgy, these included Discipleship Training, the Handbell Ministry, NFP training, Detention Ministry, the Disciples in Motion, Homeless Outreach Ministry, Child Birth classes, and Effective Fathering Seminars. The parish hosted the International School of Evangelization, and revised the Bethany Support Ministry for those touched by grief by the death of a loved one. Through the Marriage Ministry, trained couples counseled others seeking advice and help. The men of the parish began their Friday Morning Prayer Muffin in 1991. The ladies would subsequently follow with a Thursday Morning Prayer Muffin.
In 1994, the St. Louis Pre-School expanded to Kindergarten and in 1997 to a first grade beginning the process that would eventually lead to a full eight-year school – St. Louis Covenant School. Planning for a new school building began. At the ground breaking, little bags of dirt were distributed to be returned at the dedication of the new school in 2001. The bulletin urged parishioners to “Bring Back the Dirt” to be used in plantings and around the new flag pole.
And it wasn’t all work. For fun our Vacation Bible School became “Camp Holyland”; the Morning Glories continued to bowl, and the Festival of the Poor continued to grow. A cookbook, “A Taste of St. Louis” was published. Young men from St. Louis entered the seminary. These included Steve Dankoski, Jaime Acevedo, Chuck Powers and Paul Kane. Chuck Powers was ordained in 1997 following the ordination of Joe Fishwick in 1975, Frank Kudlo in 1988 and Paul Kane in 1996. Fr. Jaime Acevedo would be ordained in May 1999 and served in the parish for several years before becoming a pastor. In June 1996 , Fr. Jeff McCormick become our Associate Pastor. He also left St. Louis in 1999 and in time become a pastor in Broward, and Fr. John Peloso arrived with scuba gear and golf clubs in tow.
The 90’s also brought us two new deacons. Alex Lam was ordained in 1997 and brought us many celebrations with the Chinese Apostolate including Chinese New Year complete with dragon; Bob Yglesias was ordained in 1998 and specialized in Life in the Spirit, Prison ministry and the Spanish community.
In 1999, on the feast of Corpus Christi, a new ministry began. The St. Louis Vocation Chalice, conceived by Miriam Columbro as an outgrowth of the Vocations Commission, would begin travel from home to home as a sign of total parish commitment to praying for vocations. Fourteen years later, this ministry has spread across the archdiocese and to other countries.
Hurricane Andrew began the 90’s and also marked a time when St. Louis began to mature. By the end of the decade as the millennium approached, the real challenge to the parish was trying to see the difference between “mission”, that is “What are we being called to do?”, and “maintenance,” “How do we keep what we’ve got?” The danger with the latter was resting on laurels and not being open to the movement of the Spirit to new challenges.
Como resultado de la labor del padre Otto y la divulgación obtenida con la celebración de las patronas, la feligresía creció hasta el punto que fue necesario incorporar otra celebración Eucarística. Fue así que a partir de 1995, el padre Lemus SJ comenzó a celebrar una misa los domingos por la mañana, tarea que luego continuará el padre Pedro Cartaya SJ hasta el año 2010.
En el año 1999, el Arzobispo de Miami recomendó al Father Fetscher la unificación de los dos Consejos. Se fusionan el Pastoral Council y el Consejo Pastoral Hispano en una única entidad con representación de las comunidades de habla inglesa y español. Elio Donna es nombrado Presidente en el año 2000.