Parish History

St. Lucy Church was established on October 3, 1968, when the Diocese of Miami purchased a tract of land, on which the church is now located.  At that time, that tract of land was nothing more than a large mangrove swamp with overgrown vegetation.  Through the efforts of the Founding Pastor, Reverend Michael Keller, deceased, a temporary chapel was made from the south duplex of the original rectory, and services were held there.  A temporary church was built under the direction of Reverend Patrick Slevin, the second Pastor, and dedicated in 1972, by Archbishop Coleman Carroll of Miami.  On May 30, 1974, Reverend Anthony J. Chepanis was appointed Pastor, and soon after his appointment purchased the old rectory and property behind it.  The parish grew rapidly and presented a challenge to Reverend Chepanis to enlarge the seating capacity. When it was decided to build the new St. Lucy Church and Parish Hall, we encountered many obstacles, primarily from the Florida Environmental Agency because a good portion of the church property was a mangrove swamp.  For over two and a half years, we negotiated with them regarding the drainage of the property and also filling in the remaining acre that was a mangrove swamp.  When it was finally decided by the E.P.A. that we could not remove the remaining mangroves and fill in what was rightfully our property, the Archdiocese of Miami (under whose jurisdiction we belonged) had to grant an easement of over one acre to the State of Florida for the preservation of the mangroves. Meanwhile, we began to design the floor plan for the church and parish hall.  Having studied the needs of the parish and the small size of the property, we came to the conclusion we did not need a huge church that would be used only on the weekends.  Then, too, approximately seventy-five percent of the parishioners are seasonal (here five months during the fall and winter). The only parts of the temporary church left were the supporting arches, floor and roof deck.  We decided to build a more functional building – a church and hall under one roof – but separated yet capable of being a large church when needed.  To accomplish this we designed the rear wall of the Sanctuary (actually two huge doors that operate electronically) to open into the huge room which allows additional seating capacity of five hundred during the seasonal months of the year, if needed.  As a result, a beautiful permanent church was built and the room behind the mosaic serves as a handsome hall for various parish functions.  This was dedicated on December 5, 1987 by the Most Reverend Thomas V. Daily, first Bishop of the Palm Beach Diocese and now Bishop of Brooklyn.  We also came to the conclusion – this being a semitropical area, why build a church according to northern architecture – dark and massive. Hence we designed a church which, in a sense, blended with the tropical nature of Florida – an openness that brought the outside into the church.  After receiving approval from the Archdiocese of Miami to begin a Building Fund Drive, and engage an architect, we selected, Mr. E. N. Turano, A.I.A., a prominent retired architect from New York City, now living in Boca Raton. Mr. Turano then proceeded to architecturally design our plans that are now St. Lucy Church and Parish Hall.  The parish continued its growth and the next challenge was a new rectory inasmuch as the pastor was living in his “Castle by the Sea,” (that consisted of the old duplex) which was converted into the Rectory and parish offices.  Ground breaking for the new rectory and offices was made on April 9, 1992 with the Most Reverend J. Keith Symons, Bishop of the Palm Beach presiding.  Work was completed on December 13, 1992, when the magnificent edifice was dedicated by Bishop Symons.  The new building has offices on the first floor and living accommodations for the priests on the second.  At present, St. Lucy Church has an enrollment of approximately 600 families.

Reverend Anthony J. Chepanis, 1995