A church in Fort Lauderdale is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and it’s not just any church. Saint Anthony Parish has the distinction of being the oldest Catholic church in Broward County.
"I went to church for the first time with my mother when I was probably four or five years old," said parishioner James DeCamp Jr.
James says he’s been attending service at Saint Anthony’s since he can remember. The 93-year-old says his mother used to take him every Sunday.
"This has been the church for most of my life," said James.
Originally a small stone church located on Las Olas Boulevard, the church was re-built in 1948 at this location blocks away, now located at 901 NE 2nd street.
Loyal parishioners say Saint Anthony's history is intimately attached to the history of Fort Lauderdale, having been an integral part of the community through momentous historical events such as the great depression, world war II, the decline of the city in the 1970s and its renaissance in the 1980s through today.
"I think of the influence that the parish has had on the government in Broward County. My grandparents came here and brought my mother, who was three years old at the time. They came in 1910. The city wasn’t chartered until 1911," said sister Therese Margaret Roberts.
The Saint Anthony Catholic school also making history in South Florida, marking their 95th year.
"That school that started with nuns and six classrooms and it was first grade through 12th, with 1st and second in one classroom. It’s been amazing," said pastor Michael Grady.
The anniversaries also marking the beginning of a campaign called “Building Together in Faith Capital”, in hopes to raise money for a new center.
Our Melissa Marrero asked:"What do you hope this church will continue to bring to South Floridians?"
Pastor Grady: "Hope. In a world that change is constant, it seems to be full of lots of bad news. The church offers hope. If we ever lose hope, we lose our identities as human beings".
A celebration mass will be held this Saturday, June 12th at 5pm.