THE HISTORY OF ST. JUDE PARISH
Our history is not just a list of construction milestones. Looking past the dates noted and dollars spent, we find devoted priests, religious, and laity ministering to those in need and families coming together in worship. Going beyond facts and figures, we see children being baptized, sons and daughters attending school, couples getting married, and loved ones being laid to rest. More than buildings, ours is the ongoing story of God’s people in Boca Raton—men and women united by faith, with hope for the future, building a parish community through acts of charity and love.
St. Jude Parish began in 1979 when the Archdiocese of Miami approved plans to build a new church in Boca Raton. It originally was to be called St. Rita because the Enrico family had donated ten acres on the corner of Powerline and Palmetto in memory of their mother Rita. But around the same time, the Texaco Company had fifteen secluded acres off Toledo Road they wanted to exchange next to the YMCA. The diocese agreed to swap.
St. Jude’s first pastor was the Rev. Jack Totty. He was faced with the awesome task of constructing a church and a school—but he received unexpected assistance that seemed a godsend at the time. In the early 1980s, a local contractor was developing condos on SW 18th Street. He decided to help with the construction and agreed to donate one million dollars for building the church if Fr. Totty could raise another million for the school. In return, he asked that the church be named St. Jude after his patron saint. The Miami Archdiocese asked the Enrico family if they would mind the change and they said “no,” so long as another church was named after their mother, Rita. That is how St. Rita’s in Wellington got its name.
St. Jude’s groundbreaking was held on the Feast of the Assumption in 1983. While the church was being built, parishioners attended Mass on Saturday afternoons at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Chapel. Sunday Mass was celebrated at the Lynn University Chapel and the Pope John Paul II High School gym. Weekday Mass was held at Fr. Totty’s home.
Disaster struck in 1984 during the middle of the construction when the contractor suddenly went bankrupt and the Archdiocese of Miami split into the Diocese of Palm Beach and the Archdiocese of Miami. The responsibility for the two million dollar construction debt fell squarely on St. Jude and the Diocese of Palm Beach.
By 1985, the school building had still not been completed, so the parish rented out a house called “The Mansion” in Deerfield Beach on Lyons Road where classes could be held while construction was being finished. Fr. Totty’s vision for the school was to call it St. Jude Academy with only 25 students to a class. He wanted to keep it independent of the church. He felt the cost of educating the children should be borne solely by the parents, but the diocese did not agree; and the school became a parish-wide endeavor. Upon the retirement of Fr. Totty, Fr. Daniel Barrett became the second pastor of St. Jude. In 1986, St. Jude School was dedicated.
Through hard work and the donations of time, talent, and treasure by parishioners, the church finally opened in 1986. The first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Eve.
Two years later, Fr. Timothy Lynch became the pastor and was assisted by Fr. Chris Allen and the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. Fr. Michael Driscoll and Fr. Timothy Johnson joined St. Jude’s family in 1992. But in all this time, the building debt had not been paid. With interest, it had grown to a staggering $3.4 million.
Fortunately for St. Jude, Fr. Tim Lynch was able to negotiate a deal with the diocese in which they would freeze the interest if the church would agree to pay $20,000 a month to the debt. As of 2002, the generous donations of parishioners had whittled the bill down to less than $700,000.
In 1992, Fr. Tim Lynch built the picnic pavilion and conference room. In 1994, the parish came under the care of the Carmelite Order with Fr. Michael Driscoll as pastor. All the while, the school was growing, and in 1995 the St. Jude preschool was added. At this time Fr. Michael decided to double the classes so that more students could attend. This meant the addition of modular classrooms. In 2002, the final section of the school was completed and the modular classrooms removed.
Thanks to the stewardship of our caring parishioners and the leadership of our dedicated religious, St. Jude was named one of the outstanding Catholic parishes in the nation in 2001. It was also recognized by The National Catholic Reporter (a national Catholic weekly) as one of the top twenty-five parishes in the United States.
On our silver anniversary, Fr. Michael Driscoll formally announced the desire to build a Parish Family Life Center to facilitate the work of our many ministries. This facility, which has been the desire of our parishioners for many years, would include parish offices, meeting rooms for our expanding ministries, a banquet hall and a kitchen to cater to the needs of our parishioners and school students.
The Dream Team
The groundbreaking, which took place in the summer of 2011, was the beginning of a new chapter for our parish. Fr. Michael Kissane was installed as pastor and took over the responsibility of overseeing the completion of “The Dream,” scheduled for September 2012.
CARMELITES OF ST. JUDE
The Carmelites who administer St. Jude have a long historical tradition tied to the prophet Elijah and the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Unlike most religious orders, the Carmelites have no official founder. Earliest historical accounts find that the fist Carmelites were already settled as hermits on Mt. Carmel a little more than 800 years ago, living near the fountain of the prophet Elijah. The chapel which stood in the midst of their cells was dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In 1251, their 6th Superior General, St. Simon Stock, an Englishman, allegedly received a visitation from the Blessed Mother requesting that a scapular be worn as a symbol of dedication to her Son and her constant protection. At the time of this apparition she was dressed in the garb which now has so often become identified as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Today, there are over 50 different representations of Our Lady of Mount Carmel reflecting a very rich tradition of alleged appearances and devotional expressions throughout the world. The Carmelites have a motto, “Be sure that one praises Mary daily.”
Meet The Team
Fr. John was born and raised on Long Island, New York. He joined the Carmelite Formation program in 1976 and professed his first vows in 1979. He studied theology at the Washington Theological Union, professed his Solemn Vows in 1982 and was ordained a priest in 1984.
This is Fr. John's third assignment in Boca Raton; he previously ministered twice at Pope John Paul II High School, now called St. John Paul II Academy. Fr. John used to come to St. Jude on weekends to celebrate Mass. He came back to St. Jude as the Pastor in 2015 and remains so today.
Favorite Scripture Quote: Matthew 28:16-20 - "I am with you always, until the end of the age."
This is closely tied in with his philosophy, which is, don't worry about the future - God is already there.
Father Christopher Iannizzotto, O.Carm., a member of the St Elias Province of Carmelites was ordained to the priesthood on December 20, 2008 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown, New York. Bishop Dominick Lagonegro, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York was the ordaining prelate.
Father Christopher, the son of the late Carmelo and the late Rose Iannizzotto was born on September 15, 1971 in Brooklyn, NY. Father Christopher attended St. Thomas Aquinas Grammar School in Brooklyn and the Telecommunication – Arts and Technology High School. After working and going to school for a few years, Father Christopher entered the Carmelite Pre-novitiate formation program in Tappan, NY in August of 1998. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY and graduated in 2001 with a BA degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies.
After completing his college studies, Father Christopher entered the Novitiate in Middletown, NY and professed his first vows on June 3, 2002. He then taught the 4th grade at St. Simon Stock grammar school from September, 2002 – June 2004. On August 26, 2006 he professed his solemn vows and was ordained a deacon on May 5, 2007 in Washington DC. After his ordination to the priesthood he served at St. Simon Stock – Saint Joseph Church from May 2008 – August 2017.
Father Christopher received his M.Div. degree in Theology from the Washington Theological Union.
2 Kings 2:9” When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Request whatever I might do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.”
Born October 29, 1941 in Bronx, NY. He attended St. Alberts Jr. Seminary in Middletown, NY. Fr. Michael was Ordained priest in St. Alberts Chapel in Middletown, NY on June 3, 1967. After spending years at other parishes, seminaries and schools, Fr. Michael came to St. Jude Parish as Parochial Vicar in 1992-1994. He became Pastor of St. Jude Parish in 1994 and remained until 2010. He retired as Pastor in 2010 but remains very active in the St. Jude and local catholic community.
Favorite Scripture Passage: Luke 24:35, He was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
Born in Western Massachusetts and entered St. Albert Seminary in 1955. First Profession as a Carmelite was in 1958. After Theology studies in Rome, Fr. Richard was ordained in Washington, D.C. in 1965. Having taught Catholic High School in D.C., Fr. Richard also worked in many diverse apostolates over the years. He has devoted much of his priesthood to the major renewal movement in the Church, such as Marriage Encounter, Cursillo and the Charismatic Renewal. Now Retired, Fr. Richard still continues to serve St. Jude Parish in many ways.
Favorite Scripture: First Letter of John, Chapter 4 verse 18: "There is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment and so one who fears in not yet perfect in love."