In 2011, with our new Bishop, John Noonan, we at St. Paul's look forward to the future with renewed hope and awareness of the Holy Spirit's work in the church. Our past has been bright and we know our future will continue to walk in the Lord.
In 2008 the Diocese of Orlando and our then Bishop Thomas Wenski, who is now the Archbishop of Miami, celebrated its 40th Anniversary as a Diocese and proclaimed the year, a “Year of Evangelization”. In June of that same year the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a Year emphasizing special recognition to Saint Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, celebrating the 2000 year of his birth. The year of St. Paul continued through 2009 until June 29th and emphasized the Evangelistic nature of St. Paul’s preaching, and how he worked tirelessly in evangelizing (proclaiming) the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
The Pauline Year was a very special time for The Catholic Community of St. Paul, Leesburg, not only because we hold St. Paul, the Apostle as our patron, and not only because the Diocese of Orlando had declared our parish as one of three pilgrimage sites within the Diocese for the year, and not only because we are actively involved in the evangelization ministry throughout the Diocese with CCTN, The Catholic Community Television Network and St. Paul’s Gift and Book Store, but specifically, we at The Catholic Community of St. Paul, know the importance of sharing and living out our Faith in Jesus Christ as a daily event in our life. And that is living the example of St. Paul.
You will notice in this website numerous ministries and educational experiences that are available to you from this Church community. These are opportunities for you to be a part of meeting the needs of our people and forging ahead in an area of new growth. We, of course, are proud of what we believe and who we are and how we live our lives of faith. It entails a dedication to programs and events that provide blessings for us and those who we deal with. Our work and faith is not only for the good people of this community, but for everyone we meet. We are honored to be the hands and feet of Christ in this community. We are honored to see the Lord in the brothers and sisters of whom we serve and touch. We are awakened to the reality that God is truly at work here, in us and through our efforts. Let us never forget that He has sent His Spirit to guide us and that Spirit is at work in our Sacraments and our communal worship. And that as Catholics we hold a special relationship with each other as we serve.
As I approach my 20th year here as your Pastor, St. Paul’s has taken on the nature of what a Catholic Community is all about. In these years this small rural church has grown to be a leader in Liturgy and Music, throughout the diocesan area, via Radio and Television Ministries. We have developed CCTN as an outreach of the Catholic Faith from an area of Central Florida that wouldn’t even allow a Catholic Church to exist within the City limits until 1951. During these years, we have expanded our school from a 4 classroom country school of 52 students to a vibrant center of education for our younger children and Jr. High school students and 2 years ago we opened a multimillion dollar expansion to our school, providing a state of the art Science Center, Multi-media Center, cafeteria and more! This year with increased enrollment and a new Principal, Ms. Mary Staley, our school promises to be the beacon of Faith and Education for which St. Paul's has always stood for. Over these years, we extended our help to the poor and needy of our Lake County community, from a Neighborhood Aposulate to joining with other church’s in providing food for the poor through the Human Health Care Network. Our Thrift Shop, is the best known and most envied shop in the area and provides adequate items to live for both the needy and thrifty alike. Our Ministers to the Sick have received countless accommodations and honors for their dedicated service and our Religious Education Programs are now seeing a new resurgence with new faces and life to our Parish School of Religion (PSR). Our Gift Shop provides our parishioners and visitors with good Catholic literature and items, of which to grow in their faith. There is so much to do here and learn at The Catholic Community of St. Paul, I invite you to get involved and learn.
I pray that you will celebrate this year of St. Paul with growth in our own life and in service to our Lord. May you use this website as a guide to God’s work for you and by you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Very Rev. John C. Giel, V.F.