Message from Founding Mission Coordinator – Ondina Hernandez
The very first Mass celebrated at Mision Santa Maria took place on December 23, 2001. We had no building; instead we were surrounded by beautiful, tall trees. Electricity was “borrowed” from a neighbor and the use of a bathroom was facilitated by the same family that allowed us to make hot chocolate and coffee to offer after the Mass. Including 14 people from the community, 70 persons attended that Mass. They were from St. Mary, St. Paul, Nativity, Corpus Christi and from the Spanish Cursillo Movement.
It was a very humble beginning but a gigantic step to fulfill the vision of our pastor at that time, Fr. Bob Morris, to provide a place of worship to the Hispanic population of the area. Within a few weeks we were providing blankets, toys for the children and anything donated that was useful to the needy ones. The original vision evolved into something else: we were there for the whole community. Limited by having only a shed, 8 x 10, but with a great surplus of volunteers and generous donors, we became the place where nobody was judged and everybody was welcome.
On March of 2005, our building was completed and our goals and accomplishments have only grown. Personally, I am very proud of two of them: first, we can honestly say that We Are a Diverse Community with one common objective, to serve. On any given Tuesday you can find volunteers from St. Mary working next to the ones from St. Timothy or St. Paul, serving people with different languages, color, culture, age, and religious affiliation. Second, we are self supporting. Because of many volunteers, the landscaping, building upkeep, cleaning, RCIA, faith formation and even the cooking every Tuesday is done Freely. Our Sunday collection is taken seriously. Time, talents, and treasure are generously given to our beloved Mision.
Because of your continuous support, which started even before that memorable Mass on December of 2001, the presence of St. Mary Parish has been deeply felt by the community of Mision Santa Maria, and I take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the families and individuals that we have touched. May the Lord continue to grant us His Grace so we may continue in our journey of faith. I wish every one of you many blessings and my most sincere gratitude.
Our Mision Santa Maria is located at 14004 N. 15th Street in Tampa, You are always welcome to stop by to attend our Spanish Mass on Sunday at 10:00 a.m.