We began our journey as a Catholic community in June of 1980 as a Mission serving the Seven Springs area of Central Florida. Our first Mass was celebrated by Fr. Thomas Earner, the parish founder, at Anclote Elementary School on September 7th, 1980. At that time daily Masses were held at Morgan’s Funeral Home. Parishioners were requested to submit a name for our new Mission.
St. Thomas Aquinas was chosen.
Before long, we had out-grown the facility at Anclote School so a building fund was started. In April of 1982, Bishop Larkin, Clergy and parishioners participated in ground breaking ceremonies for a parish center, chapel and classrooms. Our first service was held on Thanksgiving Day 1982 and our first Sunday Mass was held on December 5th, 1982. St. Thomas Parish had finally become a visible reality to the surrounding community.
The original Parish Center quickly grew too small to accommodate our expanding family. In May of 1986 construction was completed for eight more classrooms and an addition to the Center.
On February 17th, 1993, Father Aiden Foynes, V.F., local clergy, parishioners and Pre-Schoolchildren participated in ground breaking ceremonies for our new Church. Click the Plaque for larger view in a new window.
Let us never forget those humble beginnings. In the years to come may the people of St. Thomas Aquinas continue to grow as a faith community, centered in our Lord. Jesus Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
As our parish statement proclaims, our calling is to “Learn, Live & Share the Good News“.
Art & Furnishings
The new St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church is structured around a transitional design balanced between contemporary themes and traditional ideas. It is situated next to the existing facilities without impacting the sensitive adjoining wetlands. The peak of the Church crests above the dense oak environment and can be viewed for miles. Take a photo tour of the grounds.
Visitors are welcomed through the main covered entrance into the Narthex before entering the main sanctuary. The Narthex was designed to portray the life of St. Thomas Aquinas and was furnished with a statue of the saint along with stained glass panels symbolizing his life’s work.
As the parishioner enters the Main Sanctuary, the concept is to direct all attention to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The sanctuary’s half-round form has a seating capacity of 999 parishioners who are focused directly toward the figure of Christ. The Risen Christ is hand carved of bass wood, centered within a circle of stained glass depicting the four elements of the world, surrounded by hand carved wooden angels, and an onlooking crowd of His earthly family and friends. The sanctuary furnishings and trim work are of red oak. The Altar furnishings are made of Perlotta marble and brass.
Surrounding the sanctuary are the Adoration Chapel in honor of Mary, reconciliation rooms, bridal and choir rooms, and offices. The Adoration Chapel is linked to the sanctuary by large wooden pocket doors. Its circular wall and Altar extend up through the ceiling housing a suspended sunlit stained glass mural. This circular mural represents peace and tranquility. The stained glass panels in the walls depict biblical symbols of Mary.
The people of St. Thomas Aquinas
Construction Manager – Tom Morrison
Principal in Charge – R. James Robbins, A.I.A.
Project Architect – Mike Puckett
General Contractor – Christiano Construction, Inc.
Project Manager – Carl Colwell
Job Superintendant – Leon Bussinger
Art Work – Maureen McGuire
St. Thomas Aquinas Building and Dedication Committee