The original church of St. Vincent de Paul in Wildwood, Florida was built as a relatively small mission church, supporting St. Lawrence Parish in Bushnell, Florida. When I moved to Florida and was first assigned to the parish as a deacon almost 11 years ago the mission schedule included only three or four weekend Masses. The pastor celebrated daily Mass a few days each week. On the other days, Deacon Byron and I conducted Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion. But with the growth of The Villages, one of the nation's largest retirement communities, the Bishop of Orlando made St. Vincent de Paul a parish in its own right. That same growth, however, generated huge crowds each weekend. During the peak season our attendance surged to 5,000 people in a church that could comfortably seat perhaps 500, requiring us to schedule between 9 and 11 Masses every weekend. Since The Villages continues to grow, a larger church was necessary.
After a few years of fits and starts, we now have our new church that seats approximately 1,100 people, and it is wonderful! On the evening of August 27, Bishop John Noonan of the Diocese of Orlando will celebrate the Mass of Dedication, an event the entire parish family looks forward to.
Here's a photo I took earlier today of the front of the new church. I will add photos of the interior in a few days.
|St. Vincent de Paul Church, Wildwood, Florida (click photo to enlarge)|