Nestled in the heart of a small island fishing community lies the new St. Andrew Chapel building – located in Cedar Key, under the mission of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Chiefland.
On Sunday, Jan. 23, Bishop Felipe Estévez traveled a few hundred miles to the West Coast of Florida to bless, consecrate and dedicate the newly repurposed building at 390 2nd Street.
The theme of the afternoon was “gather” as the bishop celebrated the first Mass in the new St. Andrew Chapel on Sunday of the Word of God. In his homily, Bishop Estévez emphasized the importance of a gathering place to cultivate a Catholic community.
“On this day of the Lord, we need to experience the joy of being together. The joy of experiencing God’s blessings. And the joy that the Lord is with us.”
He called attention to St. Paul’s words: “We are the Body of Christ.”
“The church is not an organization,” explained the bishop. “The church is an organism. A living organism has a body, and each part of our body is important… even the least important part is still important. And that is an image of who we are – the Body of Christ.”
“This building belongs to no one but God. And we have been instruments of the Lord to make this change happen,” he said. “We are truly witnesses of an important act of salvation that is happening in our eyes, the work of the lord in our midst here in St. Andrew Chapel in Cedar Key.”
St. Andrew Chapel – which has been holding services in a rented house on State Road 24 since it opened in 2016 – is now housed in what was once a local bank. The 2,500 square-foot building, constructed in 1954, took nearly a year of negotiations to purchase. The total project cost $415,000 and was 100% funded by the parishioners of St. Andrew.
The Catholic community in Cedar Key is small, averaging around 45 people at their Sunday service. The chapel is overseen by Father Cesar Torres-Pinzon, pastor of St. John the Evangelist. After Bishop Estévez celebrated Mass, blessed the building with holy water and consecrated the altar with chrism (holy oil), Father Pinzon thanked those involved in the project.
“All this is possible thanks to the people who were our benefactors,” he said. “Thank you to Bishop Estévez, the sisters of the Disciples of Jesus the Good Shephard, and Lester Del Rosario, construction manager for the diocese. Thank you to each and every person who worked so hard to carry out this project, and to make this chapel a reality.”