Anticipating the need for churches in this growing area, Archbishop Hurley of the Diocese of St. Augustine purchased our current property for the Azalea Park Catholic Mission Church. The first Mass was celebrated in the new church by one of our founding priests, Fr. Roman S. Gromala on March 18, 1956, (Passion Sunday), serving 300 member families.
To raise money for parish improvements, the first Fall Festival was held in the mid 1960’s. The entire community shared in the work, fun and fellowship. The Fall Festival became an annual parish event.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, major changes took place in the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council. At Good Shepherd, the first Parish Council was started and lay people became involved in the liturgy. Also, new ministries and social activities were started, including the St. Vincent de Paul Society, RCIA and the Parish Picnic.
1980s, 1990s & 2000s
In September 1981, the La Salette Missionaries accepted the call to provide priests for the parish. The pastors from this order that have served thus far are Fr. C. ”Sonny” Avitabile, M.S. 1981 to 1993; Fr. Gene Barrette, M.S. 1993 to 1997; and Fr. Brian Sheridan, M.S. 1997 to 2010. During this time, our Family Center was constructed, the school doubled its population to 650 students, a Pre-School was reinitiated, and the parish developed more than 60 active ministries.
2000 to 2009
In 2000, a campus Master Plan was created for Good Shepherd. In 2002, Good Shepherd broke ground on a 17,000-square-foot Administration and Learning Center. In 2003, Good Shepherd started a Capital Campaign with Guidance and Giving to design the church’s facilities. In August 2004, Hurricane Charley caused more than $1 million in damages to Good Shepherd’s parish campus. In 2007, Good Shepherd celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
2010 to current
In 2010, Fr. Joe O’Neil, M.S. was named as pastor and the final steps were taken to build our new Church and in February 2012, Good Shepherd broke ground on its new church. In December 2014, memorial plaques were installed in the church, and donors were invited to a special mass and celebration. Since then, we added a plaque to recognize all our original donors from 1956 (Holy Thursday, 2018) In November of 2016, Fr. Jim Henault, M.S. was named as pastor and began developing the parish in new ways. In the summer of 2017, Good Shepherd started its Stewardship Program, “Time, Talent and Treasure,” expanding parishioner involvement in the life of the Church. In 2017, the 1956 church was razed to prepare for the new Office Complex. In the fall of 2017, Good Shepherd’s masterplan was updated to include the new Parish Office Complex with additional parking.