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Sharing the Faith:    
Holy Family Parish in Jacksonville   

by Shannon Scruby Henderson

Ask anybody at Holy Family what makes the parish unique and you’re likely to hear variations on the same theme.

“It’s ALIVE,” exclaims Lynette Beitz. “I think the whole idea of community is so important here. All of the groups are focused on bringing people together.” “It’s such a friendly parish,” says Alice Kapperman, head sacristan and a parishioner since the early 1980s. She gives credit to “our fabulous priests,” Father Greg Fay, pastor since 1999, and Parochial Vicar Father Glenn Charest. “Father Fay sets the right tone,” says Alice. “He’s very friendly and easy-going, and doesn’t get upset about things. He’s just an all-around person, a good guy.” Parishioner Kathy Lester concurs, “One of the wonderful things about Father Fay is that he is not afraid to delegate. If someone is willing to take responsibility for a ministry, he’s willing to trust them. We’ve been able to do wonderful things as a result.”
Holy Family Catholic Church was dedicated on May 6, 1979 with additions and remodeling completed in 2000. The church seats 750 people.
  A wooden carving of the Holy Family adorns the chapel to the left of the main sanctuary.

“By all accounts, there is plenty to do - for all ages and interests. “The parish is like a hub of activity in our neighborhood, with things going on all over the place,” comments Bill Beitz. A short list includes the parish ministry for the divorced and widowed, a Franciscan Poverello group which fosters spiritual growth and outreach to the poor, a Prayer Blanket Ministry, a Bible study program that averages 85 participants weekly, a singles group, youth group, men’s and women’s groups, and ongoing faith education for youth and adults.

Investing time, talent and treasure

This close-knit parish is committed to each other and the larger community. Holy Family parishioners participate in building homes for Habijax. In the summertime, they sponsor - and help staff - one week of Camp I Am Special, Camp Promise and Camp Care. They give generously to those less fortunate. “We are a stewardship parish,” says Father Fay. “Each year, the parish council decides who we will give our donations to - based on the ‘poorest of the poor.’” The parish has awarded significant gifts to local ministries including Catholic Charities and L’Arche Harbor House. It has sponsored three immigrant families from Eastern Europe and is in the process of adopting two more. It provides outreach to poor parishes at home and missions outside of the country. “We have an ongoing pledge to help a hospital in Haiti,” says Father Fay. “We also help a parish in Kenya. With just two special collections last year, we raised $136,000 for them. We donated an additional $135,000 to other charities. Basically, we believe that we are here to share - not build up money in our bank account.”

The chancel window over the altar, called the Covenant-Liberation window, forms a cross. On either side of the cross are pictures such as the bread and wine, wheat and grapes that symbolize the Eucharist. Below the windows is a beautiful dove with gold-leaf rays symbolizing the Holy Spirit.

National honors for the diocese’s newest elementary school

With its numbers swelling - in eight and a half years. Holy Family grew from 640 registered families to more than 2,200 - the parish took a big step six years ago and built a school. They helped blaze a trail in the diocese by capping class size at 25. The new school has already distinguished itself, earning recognition from the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) for outstanding 2007 ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) scores. “Based on our scores last October, we placed in the top ten percent of the nation in reading and math,” reports principal Rosemary Nowotny. “We have been invited to apply for the national No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School Award.” Mrs. Nowotny credits her “hardworking” students; “highly credentialed” faculty; “tremendous parents” and an “always supportive” parish for the results. “This is a school that takes children of all abilities,” she says. “Everyone here works hard to achieve. We are so blessed.”

Holy Family Parish at a glance
Holy Family Parish
9800 Baymeadows Road
Jacksonville, FL 32256

Pastor: Rev. Greg Fay
Parochial Vicar: Rev. Glenn Charest
Parishioners: 2,200 registered families
School: 394 students in grades PreK-4-8
Principal: Rosemary Nowotny

The journey of Holy Family Parish from mission status to one of Jacksonville’s most vibrant faith communities began in 1974, when Msgr. Daniel Logan founded a church in the Baymeadows area at the request of Bishop Paul Tanner. In the early days, Mass was celebrated at Jacksonville Country Day School. By 1977, a building fund was launched, and two years later, Holy Family dedicated its permanent church.

Designed to complement the community’s woodsy setting on Baymeadows Road west of Southside Blvd., the contemporary church features a peaked wooden roof and modernist stained glass windows. In recent years, it has been remodeled and enlarged to accommodate growing parish numbers. The ten-acre Holy Family Parish complex now includes church offices, a rectory (built in 1983), a parish hall (1986), and an elementary school with regulation gym, playgrounds, softball field and soccer practice field (2001).

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