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Church of St. Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows at 18810 U.S. 41, Masaryktown, FL 34604 US - Our Parish History

Our Parish History

     In the Spring of 1924, Joseph Joscak, editor of THE NEW YORSKY DENNIK, a daily Czechoslovak newspaper, began writing a column in which he extolled the beauty and pleasing climate of Florida: "where it is possible to produce as many as three crops a year." He wanted to attract the attention of his readers to a better way of life. Most of them were employed in hard, unattractive jobs in coal mines, steel mills and other factories of the industrial north. Joscak's writings about Florida so hypnotized his readers that many, too, began to dream about a 'paradise' in Florida. A group of them began looking for land in Florida on which to settle. They discovered that land was available in an area 10 miles south of a town called Brooksville. A corporation was formed, and a down payment of $1,000 per share were taken, giving 20 acres for each share purchased. A company of 150 people, all shareholders, gathered in Washington, D.C., coming from Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but mostly from New York. They boarded a train for Tampa, from where they chartered buses to take them to what they now called "Joscak's Paradise." They found the tract anything but promising, for it was mostly uncleared land and was uninhabited except for a few families as a sawmill, but they were not discouraged.

     They called the community-to-be "Masaryktown," in honor of Thomas Gerrigue Masaryk, the first president of the newly formed Czechoslovakia. On the day they arrived, they broke bread and buried it, a symbol of good fortune. The Masaryktown of today s not all that different from what it was then, with one notable exception: its population, especially in the past couple of years, has grown greatly. However, this growth did not take place for a number of years. In the meantime, the areas surrounding the town, such as Brooksville, Spring Hill and others, have become almost city-like in their density of population, and the growth still goes on. The newly opened Suncoast Parkway promises even more growth.

     In 1925, Father Bernard Weigl, O.S.B. of St. Leo's Abbey celebrated the first Catholic Mass for the 12 Catholic families of the new town. In 1931, the first church was built for the Catholics. As yet, the town was not experiencing much growth. It continued to be served by the monks at St. Leo's. Then, in the forties and fifties, things began to change. More families began to move into the area. They came from all over the north, some of Czechoslovakian origin, but most of them from many other ethnic backgrounds. All of them were eager to start a new life in the south. The result of their hard work is very evident in today's Catholic community in Masaryktown. The community boasts a beautiful church seating 200. A hall was dedicated by the Most Reverend W. Thomas Larkin. A rectory also was built on the church grounds. All these improvements were accomplished during the pastorate of Father Desmond Daly. In 1986, Father George A. Malin was appointed Pastor. During his tenure, the stained glass windows in the main body of the Church were installed and the present altar, baptismal font, and tabernacle stand were purchased. Father Malin was transferred to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Citrus Springs in 1991.

     On July 1, 1991, the then Bishop of St. Petersburg (now the Archbishop of Miami) Bishop John C. Favalora appointed Father James A. Bucaria to lead St. Mary's. On August 15, 1991, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, the Church of Saint Mary was canonically established as a parish. With the assent of the parishioners, the title "Our Lady of Sorrows" was added to the name to honor the Slovak roots of the Parish. As of this writing, many improvements have been undertaken including the dedication of the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows and the restoration of the original bell ("named" Sts. Cyril and Methodius) on the Patronal Feast, September 15, 1993. Saint Mary's Parish was transferred from Pasco Deanery to Hernando Deanery in August 2001, and named it's Pastor, The Very Reverend James A. Bucaria, Vicar Forane.




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