Orlando, Fla., was my home away from home for 11 years, thanks to several visits when my parents were living there. While in town recently I attended Sunday Mass at my parents’ former parish, Ss. Peter and Paul in Winter Park, which they loved greatly.
Ss. Peter and Paul is reflective of the Orlando Diocese’s rapid growth. The parish was established in 1969, and although the diocese has less than 100 parishes and missions — fewer than the Diocese of Rochester — more than half have been established in the last 50 years. Ss. Peter and Paul’s new church was completed in 2002 and is more than twice the size of its previous church.
Almost everybody in Florida seems to be from somewhere else. Some of our Courier stories have noted how a large Catholic population shift is occurring from the Northeast to the South, and that certainly seems to hold true at Ss. Peter and Paul based on the folks I’ve met over the years.
A favorite Ss. Peter and Paul memory: Once, my parents introduced me to a former Auburn resident who stated her annoyance that an Auburn priest she knew was taking a new assignment in Chili. "We need good priests in this country, and they’re sending ours away!" she groused. It took some time for me to convince her that the priest was being transferred to Chili, the suburb of Rochester — not Chile, the country.
I like the ways that faith is incorporated into this renowned vacation/tourist area. There are actually two Sunday Masses at Orlando International Airport, as well as one at Port Canaveral near the Kennedy Space Center. So, I guess praying for safe travel can take on many meanings around here.