San Juan Del Rio, Catholic Church, Switzerland, Florida
Posted by: macleod1
N 30° 05.049 W 081° 38.202
17R E 438643 N 3328280
Quick Description: San Juan del Rio Church began as a mission in an old mansion on the river. The diocese had purchased what was known as the Hodges estate in 1958. The property was comprised of more than one hundred acres on the St. John’s River, included was a manor house and Camp St. John.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 3/10/2008 5:36:23 AM
Waymark Code: WM3BKX
The Switzerland area was beginning to develop quite rapidly and there was a need for a resident priest. Msgr. Joseph Dawson was commissioned to establish a mission there in 1977; the first Mass was celebrated in the mansion on February 6, 1977. Msgr. remained there for 2 years until he was transferred. Father Greg Fay replaced him in 1979. In 1983, the mission was raised to parish status. Msgr. Dawson passed away on January 4, 2002, at the age of 76; may he rest in peace.
The old house, which had been built 44 years earlier, had served as a retreat area, summer camp, refugee location center and as a state-run experimental rehabilitation center for teens. The old stead was in dire need of repair if it was to serve adequately as a house of prayer. With much hard work, the old home was transformed into a lovely chapel on the river; 140 people could be seated there.
The area continued to flourish and within a few years, the little flock grew from 45 families to over 90. It was time to build a multipurpose church. A site was chosen on State Road 13 so that the new building could be seen from the road.
Plans for the new church began to take form. The new building was Spanish in style with a red Spanish roof, coquina walls and vaulted porticoes that surrounded the building. The Dedication Mass was celebrated on September 11, 1988.
The parish has come a long way since its early years, with over 1200 households now registered. The current structure has been altered to accommodate the growing number of parishioners attending Mass there. The addition and expansion of a school is addressing the needs of our young parish family by providing quality Catholic Education. The school was dedicated on September 9, 1995.
In June of 1999, Father Ed Booth replaced Father Fay as the pastor of San Juan del Rio Church. Father Ed has been a priest for 30 years. He was ordained in March of 1974 at St. Thomas Moore Parish in Pensacola, Florida; the parish in which he had grown up.
Father Ed has served as the Respect Life Director of the Diocese of St. Augustine for 11 years. He was the State Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus for 2 years and is currently serving as the Diocesan Chaplain.
He is currently presiding over our rapidly growing parish and is overseeing the construction plans for the very much-needed new “House of God”, which upon completion will comfortably seat 1360 people. There will be parking for 375 cars and 10 handicapped spaces.
Under Father Ed Booth's leadership our new church was completed and dedicated in
February 2007. Our not so little family is growing but there is still a warm community feeling present here. One has a sense of belonging and a feeling of being at home.
Type of Church: Church
Status of Building: Actively in use for worship
Diocese: St. Augustine, Florida
1714-3 State Road 13
Jacksonville, Fl USA
Relvant Web Site: [Web Link]
Date of organization: Not listed
Date of building construction: Not listed
Dominant Architectural Style: Not listed
Associated Shrines, Art, etc.: Not listed
Archdiocese: Not listed
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