Less then 20 minutes from either the Judge S.S. Jolley or Goodland Bridge lies a sanctuary; a little piece of paradise, quiet and serene nestled in the trees on Tamiami Trail. To get there one would go up Collier Boulevard and hang a right on to U.S. 41 or out State Route 92 and turn left.
St. Finbarr Parish was founded as a mission chapel of Marco’s San Marco Catholic Church in 2000. Funds were provided by San Marco to build an all-purpose building that served as a community center as well as a place to celebrate Mass. Over time, through the work of dedicated priests and with the support and assistance of a small group of members, the St. Finbarr community grew.
It has grown to a place where during season approximately 1,500 attend weekend Masses. On Dec. 12, Bishop Frank Dwane elevated it to a parish. It is now the 47th parish in the Diocese of Venice.
On Sunday, they held a celebration in commemoration of their new status as a parish and to honor their patron saint, St. Finbarr.
They began their celebration on March 3 with an Irish concert that featured Andy Cooney and his band, singer Kate Purcell, comedian George Casey and the Darrah Carr Irish Dancers. More than 700 people attended.
Their building is known as a parish center and the park-like setting was designed to be ecologically sensitive. The site has plenty of room to build a freestanding church.
The lectern for Sunday’s 10 a.m. Mass, Jack Reynolds, and many others look forward to the day when they can build a church. Reynolds also served as lectern for St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
A prayer circle with a babbling fountain that is frequented by deer is directly across from the entrance of the parish center. The stained glass windows in their parish center are in keeping with the surroundings. Each of 14 windows has a tree in the center. The tree may be interpreted as the Tree of Life. Each window has a bird that represents different Christian values. The colors are rich; the feeling restful. The area behind the altar is painted a rich harvest gold. Local artisans made a walnut cross on the wall behind the altar.
Fr. McCarthy was the pastor of San Marco when the mission church was founded. The choice of St. Finbarr as the community’s patron saint reflects his Irish heritage. St. Finbarr was the son of an artisan and a lady of the Irish royal court. He was born in the middle of the 6th century in Connaught, Ireland and baptized Lochan. He was educated by monks who named him Finnbarr because of his light hair. He evangelized the people in Gowran, Coolcashin and Aghaboe and founded a school at Eirce. He later founded a monastery on the River Lee that became famous and attracted numerous disciples. The city of Cork grew around the monastery and he later became Cork’s first bishop.
“I had not even heard of St. Finbarr until I came here, and I am of Irish heritage,” said Thomas Mulvey, chairman of the church’s pastoral council. “It is my understanding that there are only three other St. Finbarr churches in the U.S.”
Jack and Pat Toole remember the dedication Mass held 10 years ago. “Pat and I were here the first night,” said Jack. “I still have the program.” They carried the bread and the wine that were to be consecrated for communion.
“Today’s homily given by Fr. Fritz called for us to put our faith to action,” said Mulvey. “I’m grateful that there are so many parishioners that do that.”
The parish has instituted numerous new ministries this year: visitations to the Manor at Lely Palms; a single mingle group; a long sleeve shirt drive for migrant workers; a weekly food drive; Bedtime Bundles; Habitat for Humanity; a Giving Tree at Christmas; and the Mission of Love appeal for the St. Pius X School in Haiti. They raised $7,000 to repair the school’s roof and are now raising money to feed children at the school.
“We are just beginning,” said Catholic Council of Women President, Mary Cummings. “The church is the people. Everyone is here now and excited and have time to help and participate.”
“We are a family here,” said head usher Jay Martin. “Each Sunday everyone looks forward to coming here. You feel comfortable the minute you walk in the door.”
Kathleen Tuttle, a Marco Island resident since 1987, has written articles for various non-profits for more than 25 years. She is a community volunteer, former science teacher and microbiologist. Kathleen can be contacted at email@example.com.
Marco Lutheran Church
Lyle Heggemeier, a Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod director of Christian education from Faith Lutheran in Rochester, NY will give a World Religions and Christianity Workshop on Saturday and Sunday. The schedule is as follows: 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Islam and Mormonism; and 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Sunday, on Judaism and Christianity. Contact James Zickfield at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Free and open to the public; snacks and drinks will be provided.
Jeremiah Eliason, a local attorney, will present “Preventing Elder Abuse” from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Monday. The public is invited.
St. Finbarr Parish: There will be a food drive to benefit the Catholic Charities Food Pantry in East Naples this weekend. Canned goods, peanut butter, rice and diapers are needed. Please drop them off before or after Mass.
The parish continues their Mission of Love appeal for the St. Pius X School, Ducis, Les Cayes, Haiti. The cost for food for one child for a week is $4 at the school. Checks made out to the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi may be sent care of St. Finbarr Parish, 13520 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, FL 34114.
Wesley United Methodist Church
The Hyssongs will lead the 9 and 10:30 a.m. worship services on Sunday. They are a family that has been called by God to share the message of Jesus Christ through the powerful medium of music. Their harmony, lively energetic style, humor and brass instruments encourage and uplift people. They perform throughout the U.S. and Canada and are frequently featured on television and radio. A love offering will be welcomed.
First Baptist Family Church
Slop Wars for youth 1 to 3 p.m. March 19 at Veterans Park. There will be disgustingly fun games with different types of food including eggs, noodles, flour, tomatoes, gumballs, chocolate and whipped cream. There will also be a Crisco, chocolate and oil Slip ’n Slide and water drenching games. Registration forms are at the church or at Mackle Park.
Jewish Congregation of Marco Island
The final session of Rabbi Edward. Maline’s, Adult Educational Series, Great Trials in Jewish History will be 10 a.m., March 20. The topic will be the Trial of Deborah Lipstadt and David Irving – The Role Steven Spielberg and Penguin Books Played in The Most Recent Trial in Jewish History. The program will be preceded by coffee and cake at 9:30 a.m. No charge for JCMI members; $5 charge for guests.
Marco Presbyterian Church
The final concert in the “Music for the Soul” series features Marv Hollenbeck at the piano 6 p.m., March 20. He will play a potpourri of gospel, hymns and patriotic selections. A love offering will be received.
New Life Community Church of God
The church will host a series of guest speakers at their Sunday worship services: March 20, missionaries Jim and Becky Petersen; March 27, Bishop Earle Cushman and April 3 Evangelist Glenn Bleakney. The Petersens serve in Zambia. Jim is the Field Moderator for Zambia and has joined together with the Assemblies of God, Grace Ministries, and other Pentecostal denominations to reach Zambia for Christ.
San Marco Catholic Church
The Yes, Lord Prayer Group will sponsor “Praise and Worship in Song with Dana, a Lenten Opportunity” on 3 p.m. March 23 in the Parish Center. Dana is an international Irish Catholic singer, songwriter and recording artist. Proceeds will benefit the Catholic Faith Appeal. Tickets are $20 and will be sold in the parish office or after Mass on the weekend of March 12 and 13.