The Golden Jubilee celebration of the establishment of San Marco Parish on Marco Island began with Mass and a blessing of the new statue of St. Mark, patron saint of the Parish and Diocese of Venice.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass, with the assistance of the priests of the Parish, including Father Timothy Navin, Pastor of San Marco Parish since 2004.
Father Navin said the timing of the beginning of the Golden Jubilee nearly coincides with the first Mass on Marco Island, which took place on Feb. 6, 1966 in the ballroom of the Marriot hotel. A mission church of St. Ann Parish in Naples, the new San Marco changed locations multiple times before the Parish was formally erected in 1971.
Noting that anniversary celebrations are always a good time to bring a Parish community together, Bishop Dewane recognized that togetherness means something different during the challenging times of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“We may not all be able to be together physically, but we are together in our Faith,” Bishop Dewane said. “This is a time to look back and see what has been achieved in those 50 years and those who have gone before. It is also a time to look forward, as the Parish rededicates itself with new initiatives in service to the Lord.”
The Bishop said the Parish community must strive to hear the “Word of God, taught through the authority of Jesus Christ, and live it to the fullest as this year of celebration continues.”
After Mass, Bishop Dewane blessed the new statue of Saint Mark the Evangelist to the delight of the faithful who applauded and cheered at the conclusion of the blessing.
The bronze statue was created by world renown sculptor Timothy Schmalz and is 74 inches tall and weighs 700 pounds. Additional work done to the front entrance of the Parish includes a pedestal for the statue, a new walkway and extensive landscaping.
Claire Banks, who has been a seasonal parishioner at San Marco for the past 10 years, said the celebration and statue dedication are a bright spot for everyone. “It is great to be part of this celebration. While 50 years is a long time, I’m 76, so that doesn’t seem very long. No matter, it’s a wonderful day and I hope San Marco is here in another 50 years and beyond.”
Father Navin reflected upon this moment which marked the start of a year of celebrations marking 50 years: “Thank God for the many blessings bestowed upon our Parish and especially for the faith, sacrifice and service of all those priests, religious, deacons and people who have gone before us,” “May we follow in their footsteps and pass on this great legacy to a future generation of Marco Islanders.”
San Marco Parish has 2,400 families and serves many seasonal visitors. The Parish also serves the Everglades City community with Holy Family Mission. Since its establishment, the Parish was also the parent Church of St. Finbarr Parish in Naples, which was established as a mission in 2000 and became a Parish in 2010.
For more information about San Marco Parish, please visit http://sanmarcochurch.org.