About St. Paul's Parish
Located in the heart of the historic Avondale-Riverside District, we have been serving the Catholic community of Jacksonville since 1923.
Browse the other tabs on this page to learn more about our history, about St. Paul, our patron saint, and our clergy and staff.
A Short History of St. Paul's Parish
The 1920’s were a good time for St. Paul’s Parish – it was the time of beginning. Started as a mission of the Our Lady of the Angels Church in Lackawanna, the Catholic community in the area grew enough to support its own parish.
In 1922, 250 people petitioned the Bishop of St. Augustine, Rt. Rev. Patrick Barry, to form a new parish in the Riverside section of Jacksonville. The petition was granted and Father William Barry became the first Pastor. Land was acquired at the corner of Forbes and Acosta Streets and a church-school building was built. Father Barry said the first Mass in the building on September 16, 1923; Bishop Barry dedicated the building on November 25, 1923.
The church-school building provided 3 floors for the parishioners – the 1st floor was the church seating 700 persons, the 2nd floor served the school (grades 1 through 7) and the 3rd floor was used as a parish hall and temporary housing for the Sisters of St. Joseph.
In 1924, high school grades were added to the school. Also that year, the rectory was completed for the priests to move into on Christmas eve. Shortly thereafter, the building of the 2-story brick convent and auditorium took place.
As elsewhere in the country, the Depression Years were rough on the parishioners of St. Paul’s; however, they wanted a Church so they persevered. Funds were raised and plans were made. In 1939 ground was broken for the Church we know and love today. The new $100,000 Church, built in the Mediterranean Revival style with sun-bleached yellow bricks and Ludowici roof tiles, was opened on Easter, March 24, 1940 with the Rt. Rev Monsignor D. A. Lyons, pastor, presiding over the Solemn High Mass.
The architect was Gerald Barry of Chicago, the supervisory architect was John Reynolds of Jacksonville and the contractor was A. L. Clayton of Jacksonville. The Rambusch Firm of New York was in charge of the paintings and the stain glass windows design with Hugo Ohlms of New York as the muralist.
The Church, built to seat 900 persons, did not originally contain the stained glass windows, the Stations of the Cross, and the beautiful paintings. The two yellow windows near the confessionals are the only original windows remaining as the Rambusch stain glass windows were added later, in 1941. Originally, also, one would have walked into a church with a terrazzo floor.
The parish made it through the Great Depression and World War II. In 1952 the high school was closed when Bishop Kenny High School opened.
Over the years other adjacent properties were bought to create the 3.5 acre campus we have today.
Fast forwarding to the 21st century, many renovations have been completed. During 2004-2005, the Convent was changed to a media center for the school. The first floor was converted to a Library and a media room with computers for the students. In 2008, the convent chapel was renovated and dedicated on 8 Dec 2008. Just a few of the many jobs that were completed were: installed the carpet, repaired the wiring, patched and painted the walls, restored and finished the altar and altar railings, restored the painting behind the altar, built the beautiful new tabernacle, and adding the faux “stain glass” windows. In 2012, the second floor was redone to accommodate the Tribual Office.
The school windows were restored during 2006 at a total cost of $94,000. The windows were removed and sent to Terry Hayes in Monticello, Florida to be carefully restored and then placed back into position.
Since then many additional repairs and improvements were made to the parish campus: Church bathrooms gutted and redone; roofs repaired/replaced on all buildings; auditorium painted, lighting updated, handicap bathroom installed, etc.; rectory revamped from top to bottom; gift shop moved into a new space (twice); cafeteria repainted and a French drain installed; school hallways were retiled and painted, ceilings repaired/replaced, etc.; relocated/fixed air condition units and much, much more.
Our most recent renovations include replacement of lighting in the church, installation of spotlights for each of the Stations of the Cross, removal of carpeting from the sanctuary, and replacement of flooring in the choir loft.
St. Joseph, Patron Saint of workers, pray for us and
bless our continued restoration efforts.
Our Patron Saint
A Man of the Sword and the Book
PAUL (I) (d. c65) apostle of the Gentiles. A Jew, born at Tarsus and brought up by Gamaliel as a pharisee, Saul was first a persecutor of Christianity, who took part in the stoning of Stephen, sought out Christians and had them imprisoned, but on his way to Damascus experienced a vision of Christ which was to be decisive in determining the future course of his life.
The substance of the experience caused a conviction that Jesus was in some way identified with the Christian Church and that Paul was to bring the Christian faith to the Gentiles.
He was then baptized, retired to Arabia for about three years of prayer and solitude,and returned to Damascus. There his Jewish enemies were so hostile that he escaped by night, lowered in a basket over the city wall, and went to Jerusalem where he was received with some hesitation until Barnabas quelled the doubts of the community.
Some years later he worked at Antioch and its vicinity, where he reproved Peter for appearing to compromise with the Jews.
The three missionary journeys followed, first to Cyprus, then to Asia Minor and eastern Greece, lastly to Ephesus where he made a prolonged stay and wrote I Corinthians, then to Macedonia and Achaia, where he wrote Romans, before returning to Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem he was attacked and beaten by a mob for preaching against the enactments of the Jewish Law, but Paul invoked his privileges as a Roman citizen and eventually appealed to Caesar for a trial at Rome, as his life was in danger from religious extremists.
On the voyage to Rome he suffered shipwreck at Malta; when he reached it, he was under house-arrest for two years, during which he wrote the four captivity epistles. Presumably he was acquitted at this trial, for he probably revisited Ephesus and may even have gone to Spain.
According to tradition he was martyred at Rome during the persecution of nearing, being beheaded (as a Roman citizen) at Tre Fontane and buried where the basilica of St. Paul “outside the walls” now stands.
The belief that Peter and Paul died on the same day was caused by their sharing the same feast of 29 June.
Paul was not only a tireless missionary; he was also a powerful thinker, saturated in the Mystery of Christ; his epistles, most of which were written for particular practical needs, led to the development of Christian theology with them as one of its principal foundations.
His key ideas included that of Redemption through faith in Christ who abrogated the Old Law and began the era of the Spirit; Christ is not only Messiah, but the eternal Son of God, pre-existing before the Incarnation and exalted after the Resurrection to God’s right hand; the Church is the (mystical) Body of Christ and will eventually be transformed by the final resurrection.
It is difficult to overemphasize the influence of Paul on Christian thought and history, through Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and other writers as well in conciliar documents.
The apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla say that he was small in stature, bald and bandy-legged, with a long nose and eyebrows meeting. Many representations of Paul depict a fairly constant image of a long face and long beard with a bald head and deep-set eyes. (See the painting by El Greco of St. Paul above.)
His usual emblems are a sword and a book. Never quite as popular as Peter, he nevertheless appears in art frequently with him or among he twelve apostles (where Paul often displaces Matthias).
Ancient English churches dedicated to Paul alone number only 43, but there were 283 which were dedicated to Peter and Paul.
Like Peter, his name has attracted numerous apocryphal writings, such as the Acts of Paul, the Apocalypse of Paul, the Martyrdom of Paul, and the Acts of Paul and Thecla, which date from the 2nd to the 4th centuries. As with the apocryphal gospels, the best way to judge their worth is to compare them with the canonical writings. They did, however, enjoy a certain uncritical popularity.
The colourful and adventurous preaching career of Paul described in the Acts of the Apostles provided artists with material for his representation. Famous English examples include the fresco in St. Anselm’s Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral (late 12th century) and enamel in the Victorian and Albert Museum, and innumerable initial miniatures in the famous Bibles of the 12th century. Statues and stained glass representations must be even more numerous.
Besides the joint feast on June 29, there is the feast of Paul on January 25 (Conversion).
From pages 339-340 of The Oxford Dictionary of Saints by David Farmer. Published by the Oxford University Press. Copyright 1987. Second edition.