Naples Parish celebrates 50th

St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples celebrated its Golden Jubilee with a trilingual Mass and celebration to mark the occasion on June 9, 2024.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass, which included readings, petitions and music in English, Spanish and Creole, reflecting the diverse but unified nature of the Parish. Celebrating the Mass were Father Gerard “G” Critch, as well as numerous priests who have served through the years or are from neighboring Parishes.

“This 50th anniversary is something special,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is a day of prayer; a day we give thanks, glory and praise to God, and it is done in different languages and that is a blessing. Your dynamic Parish personifies this every day.”


Bishop Dewane noted the great good the faithful at St. Peter the Apostle have done, living in a way that Christ is encountered both within the walls of the church and by people in the community, spreading the Good News of the Lord far and wide. Ongoing outreach includes supporting migrant farmworkers, giving back to the needy, being a place of care when hurricanes have impacted the community, and much more.

“As St. Peter’s celebrates 50 years, it is appropriate to look back and reflect upon those who laid the building stones to raise up this Parish to where it is today,” the Bishop said. “We pray for the living and the dead, and for the priests and deacons who have served the Parish throughout the years, grateful for the dedication which has gone into making this Parish what it is today. There is a bright future here and may the next 50 years build upon what has only just started here in Naples.”

Father Critch said the Parish has been blessed for its 50 years and for that he is grateful. “This is a celebration for all who have passed through these doors and have shared in our earthly pilgrimage, we are deeply grateful to you, Oh Lord. Loving Father, may we, as your people, remain faithful to you and your holy Catholic Church until the end of the days. “

St. Peter the Apostle Parish was erected in Naples on June 11, 1974, and has more than 4,500 families with seven weekend Masses in three languages. The founding Pastor was Father Michael Hickey, and the Mass was first celebrated at a local school. The first church was dedicated in 1978 and the current church was dedicated in 1995. The Parish Spirit Center, which includes the Parish Hall and offices, was dedicated in 2019.

At the reception, a video retrospective was shared, offering glimpses into the Parish’s past and letting the current faithful see some of the faces of parishioners who were there at the beginning.

Founding Parishioner Mary Ann O’Neill reflected upon how when the founding Pastor, Father Hickey, arrived, he needed everything, not only a place to celebrate Mass but an altar and more. “These were very simple beginnings. The area of south Naples was kind of wild, but as the area grew, the Parish has grown so much, but we are still the same St. Peter’s.”

Many noted how Corrina Hernandez helped found the Hispanic Ministry, focusing first on farmworkers but later on building up the faith by welcoming them to a Spanish-language Mass. Likewise, the Haitian outreach first focused on supporting farmworkers before bringing the faithful for a Mass in Creole.

“The Holy Spirit has championed the different and diverse cultural communities through the language of love,” Father Critch said. “That is who we are here at St. Peter, one loving community dedicated to the glory of God.”

For the celebration, a buffet of international cuisine allowed everyone to enjoy a variety of delicacies. In addition, there were dancers and musicians in Aztec garb who performed prior to Mass, led the faithful from church to the reception in the Parish Spirit Center, and again showed their talents while everyone enjoyed the 50th anniversary party. Also performing were two bagpipers, as well as choirs representing the three major languages.