Bishop Thomas J. Grady canonically erected Saint Clare Catholic Community on November 1, 1989 from Our Lady of the Lakes and St. Peter ‘s on 40 acres of land. The bishop appointed Fr. Timothy W. Kandel as it’s first pastor.
The new pastor called a general parish meeting in January of 1990 at the Knights of Columbus Hall at Our Lady of the Lakes. It was determined at that meeting to clear a portion of the land to celebrate the first Mass on the site. That Mass occurred on February 4, 1990. At that Mass was
the first baptism of the parish.
The parish began celebrating Mass at a storefront at 2272-D Elkcam Blvd. Daily Liturgy was celebrated at the rectory. Fr. Tim instituted the practice of saying Morning Prayer (The Liturgy of the Hours) before daily Mass. During festival times Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer would be sung.
It didn’t take long to outgrow the storefront. People would end up parking their cars in the median of Elkcam and on the right-of-way. A new location would have to be found.
After searching for a suitable site, the Osteen Civic Center was found. Mass was celebrated there each Sunday from June of 1990 until April of 1993.
On the weekend August 11, 1990 the parish celebrated its first extended patronal feast. It began on Friday with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Saturday was a day of reflection on different forms of prayer led by the pastor. On Sunday, Liturgy was celebrated on the parish grounds and a potluck luncheon followed.
In the fall of 1990 the parish began an innovative approach to religious education. Instead of a weekly class attended only by the children, a monthly session was held on one Sunday of the month. While the children attended class Fr. Tim was teaching the parents. The rest of the month the parents teach their children at home.
The ministry of Someone Cares was formed. Parishioners were asked to bring in food donations. Some would donate cash, others their time. Those in need could come to the parish to receive assistance. They were given food and referrals to help them get back on their feet while retaining their dignity as a child of God. On several occasions it appeared as though this ministry would run out of food or money. An appeal would go forth from the pulpit on Sunday and by Monday the pantry was restocked.
In 1991 an architect was chosen to begin developing plans for a permanent structure on the site. Bo Abernathy of Enterprise was selected. A fund drive was begun. At the end of a four week period of prayer and discernment the parishioners pledged $350,000 towards the new building. The architect made the necessary modifications to the original plan that was submitted to the diocese for approval.
On the Feast of Corpus Christi the parish had a seven mile procession from the Osteen Civic Center to the parish site. Along the way parishioners offered hospitality and relief from the afternoon heat. Rain did not dampen the spirits of those in procession.
The parish has always been dedicated to the Gospel imperative of caring for the poor and outcast. Inspired by that desire, Pam Jessup began a ministry to those affected by the disease of AIDS.
Groundbreaking for the new parish building occurred on March 25, 1992, the Feast of the Annunciation. It began with solemn evening prayer.
Construction of Clare Hall began in the fall of 1992. Peck and Associates of Daytona Beach were chosen as the General Contractors. The parish took possession of the new building on April 23, 1993. Volunteers cleaned and set up the hall for worship. The first service held in the new building was solemn evening prayer, led by Fr. Tim Kandel at 11pm that night.
The first Mass was celebrated the next day at the 5pm Vigil Mass. The first baptism in Clare Hall occurred on Sunday in a temporary font. The water for the immersion baptism was from Rock Springs and the Jordan River, a combination of old and new. Because sign and symbol are always important in the Catholic tradition the parish strives to live that reality. Immersion baptisms, Eucharist under both species, blessings that the entire congregation joins, a full Christian Initiation process. These are just a few of the ways that the parish has lived out the goal of Vatican II.
The new parish hall was designed with a Eucharistic Reservation Chapel that is open 24hrs a day. The tabernacle, a pillar of wood and glass was designed and built by Paul Lemire, a parishioner.
On February 12, 1994 the parish decided to do something special for married couples. Mass was celebrated at which each of the couples present could renew their wedding vows. Following Liturgy, a banquet was served, reminiscent of their wedding reception.
A parish pictorial directory was started. Each family could then put a name with a face when encountering other parishioners at Mass or around town. Vacation Bible School was held for the first time in the summer of ’94.
After prayer and reflection upon the teachings of the Church at Vatican II, it was asked, “Couldn’t we bake our own Eucharistic bread? After all, the directives say it should have the ‘appearance of bread.’ The answer to that question led to a ministry of bread baking. This ministry continues today.
The fund drive for Clare Hall did not raise the money that was hoped for. Some goals had to be scaled back. To conserve cash a full kitchen would not be possible. Likewise, the main assembly would have a cement floor.
Fr. Tim was given a sabbatical in 1995. He decided to pursue a doctorate in Biblical Studies in Miami. The bishop appointed Fr. Christopher A. Hoffmann as the second pastor. He had been school pastor at Bishop Moore High School. Fr.Chris would also be assuming duties for Catholic Campus Ministry at Stetson University. This would lead to an outreach of our parishioners to the college students with food and fellowship.
During 1996 a finance committee was formed to address the nearly $500,000 debt still remaining on the building. It was decided to ask each parishioner to give to a parish debt reduction while continuing to support the ongoing ministry of the parish. The pastor and staff took pay cuts to help. By the summer the parish books were balanced and money was being paid down on the debt.
The parish has always had a great love for the San Damiano Cross. Paul Lemire discovered a photography studio in Orlando that could produce an image that would be as large as the original cross in Italy. Funds were collected and the photo was done. Paul framed this photo and built the supports for the cross to be hung on the wall. At the patronal celebration on August 11, 1996 the new 6’ cross was dedicated. Cancer claimed Paul’s life on Oct. 19,1999.
Several members of the parish under the spiritual direction of Fr. Tim and Fr. Chris decided to form themselves into an intentional community. The Companions of Jesus and Mary were formed in 1995 to be a leaven to the parish and society. Each of the Companions take vows before the parish promising to live out their baptismal call in a public way. New members have joined, seeing the lifestyle of the Companions as being in harmony with their own spirituality.
To continue the development of the building a fund drive was also established to finish the floor. The parish responded generously to put vinyl tile in the assembly and ceramic tile in the narthex. These projects were completed by Christmas 1996.
1997 saw the first parish festival. During the week preceding the patronal feast, a two-day festival occurred. Since this was a first attempt no one was sure of all that would be necessary to accomplish such a feat. Joe and Margo Reeves agreed to chair the first festival. Despite rain falling throughout Deltona on those two days, God kept the festival free of rain. It was a huge success. A 1990 Ford Taurus wagon was raffled off. Games and food booths, 50/50 raffles, and donations netted the parish over $7300. An even larger festival was held in 1998 and chaired by Bob & Debbie Kremer.
The parish has held missions each year. Fr. Stephen Barham led the first mission. He is known throughout the world for his healing ministry. Several parishioners reported healings through his prayers. The parish has hosted Fr. Ron Luka, Fr. Bob McCarthy, John and Sally Cojanis, who also have a healing ministry, and Fr. Roch Coogan, a Franciscan priest. In addition, days of reflection are frequently offered to the parish and its various ministries. Many of the parishioners avail themselves of opportunities at San Pedro Center too.
The Horticultural Class at Deltona High School agreed to make the entrance way to the building their spring project in 1998. They replanted many of the existing plants in other gardens. They decided to highlight the front with the use of crushed stone and plants to form a cross. Through the creative use of shrubs and trees they constructed a beautiful and noble entrance. Their work will be a source of pride for years to come.
On November 1,1999 the parish began its 10th anniversary. Ministry and service have always been key components of parish life. A resource directory was established which listed all the opportunities for service. We held a parish picnic to begin the year of celebration in November.
Our parish has always had an outreach to the poor of the area. Another opportunity to expand our service was given with the formation of FAITH (Fighting Against Injustice Towards Harmony). This grass-roots organization is comprised of churches and synagogues throughout Volusia County. St. Clare was one of the founding churches. Action was brought to bear to improve reading in our public schools, develop a drug treatment program in the county jail, and provide stronger police action to clean up areas where drugs and prostitution were occurring in Daytona and Deltona. Further work is being done to bring a shelter for pregnant and parenting teens to the county.
The diocese gave permission to build a rectory on the parish grounds in 1999. The project began in the Fall of that year and was completed in May of 2000. It is situated on the north end of the property near the lakes.
Throughout the year 2000, the Jubilee Year, opportunities were given to receive added grace and blessing. The parish participated in pilgrimage to the Shrine of La Senora de la leche in St. Augustine and Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine in Orlando. Blessings were given on Sunday to various members of society as their jubilee day came.
Through effective stewardship the parish was able to save money over a three- year period to pave additional parking areas in 2001. By adding to the number of spaces available and paving area that had been only sand and grass it is hoped that this will provide a more hospitable facility. Likewise with less sand coming into the building we will be able to preserve our carpets and tile more effectively.
Then as of July 31, 2001, our Pastor Father Christopher Hoffmann was transferred out to Blessed Sacrament in Clermont, Florida. Father Chris was with us through the Feast of Saint Clare on August 11, 2001 where we held a parish BBQ followed by evening prayer. The following weekend our new pastor, Father Charles Viviano took the helm of the parish.
During “town meetings” with the parishioners of St. Clare, the majority of people expressed a desire for a “real” church. Thanks to donations from local parishes, and members coming forward to share their talent, Clare Hall became a true place of worship. Folding chairs were replaced by pews, walls were taken down allowing for the addition of three rooms (including a Training Chapel for infants and young children), and a new altar space was constructed. A Floral Room has been created allowing the Art & Environment Committee a place to store everything it needs to enhance the liturgical environment.
A Religious Article Shop and Parish Library opened in 2003. In addition to many beautiful statues, cards and gifts, there is a large assortment of books and videos available for parishioners to check out. The church office has been refurbished including new furniture and computers. A Finance Committee is now in place and new ministries have been formed, including the St. Paula Society and an Artists Guild.
Security concerns caused St. Clare to remove acres of trees and shrubs and make new plans for the property. The walkway in front of the church was expanded and trees which had been planted as memorials were relocated. Plans are now in the works for a new social hall, driveways and more parking. A life-size statue of Saint Clare was placed in front on the church on December 14th 2004. On December 11, 2005, the parish is hosting an International Feast Day which will include a mortgage burning party. We hope to begin 2006 debt free and will begin our new Building Fund in January.
As of January 3rd 2005 Father Charles was transferred to Saint Matthew Church in Winter Haven and Father Carlos Bedoya received his appointment from Bishop Wenski on July 29th, 2006, to come to our parish as Parochial Administrator. Father Bedoya was born in Columbia, South America. His family moved to the U.S. in 1982. After graduating from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and studying theology at St. Mary’s seminary in Baltimore, he was ordained a priest on December 1, 1990 at St. James Cathedral in Orlando. After ordination in 1990 I was able to work in St. James Cathedral until January of 1995. After that I was transfered to St. John Vianney Church until January of 2000. He has been assigned to Our Lady of Our Lourdes in Melbourne, St. Ann’s in Haines City and most recently St. Francis of Assisi in Apopka. He has also spent time in Rome for sabbatical study. Father Bedoya has already started working closely with various committees in the parish to create a Master Plan that will spell out our goals and how we can work together to accomplish them. Father Carlos was installed as Pastor by Bishop Thomas Wenski.
During his tenure, we have hosted an International Feast Day and parish festivals which included a mortgage burning party. After 15 years, we were debt free. We have opened a perpetual chapel, cleared land for 40 additional parking spaces, and published a new Parish Pictorial.We purchased new communion chalices and English and Spanish lectionaries.
Our Parish Council has been expanded to include new Commissions. In 2008, we began the Alive in Christ campaign in an effort to raise $519,000.00 in pledges towards our proposed social hall. In 2009, our 20th Anniversary, we began a special memorial surrounding our statue of St. Clare giving members the opportunity to purchase a walkway brick “in honor of” or “in memory of” a loved one. We have planned a special event for each month with the goal of bringing our community together.
Fr. Carlos Bedoya celebrated his twenty years as a priest in 2011. We are looking forward to many years of great pastoral guidance!