A History of St. Clare Catholic Church
Pastors: Reverend Joseph McLaughlin (1960-1962), Reverend John W. Schlinkmann (1962-1972)
In 1958, St. Clare Parish was a mission from St. Francis of Assisi Church in Riviera Beach. A missionary priest celebrated mass for North Palm Beach residents.
On April 21, 1960, St Clare was established as a parish. A survey of North Palm Beach in 1960 found: Population 2281, Families 761, Children 1129
The Reverend Joseph McLaughlin was the first Pastor for the Church and celebrated mass at the Lucas residence (580 Anchorage Drive) from 1960-1961. There were 55 people present and the collection totaled $75. The family ping pong table was used for an altar; a local bank, and the North Palm Beach Country Club loaned some chairs.
That same year, the Santa Maria Council was instituted at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Riviera Beach.
The congregation quickly began to grow, and six weeks later the mass center was moved. From 1961-1964, the first temporary church building was in a donated space in a local shopping center (Food Fair) on U.S. 1 in Lake Park. Shortly afterwards, the new parish was offered two vacant stores and the dividing wall was taken down to provide more adequate accommodations.
On August 3, 1961, Reverend John William Schlinkmann was appointed permanent Pastor. The Women’s Guild and Altar boys were organized.
When Palm Beach County was part of the Diocese of St. Augustine, 15 acres had been purchased, but its only access was an 8ft easement onto Prosperity Farms road. In October 1961, the parish bought and paid for an additional 5.5 acres which adjoined the easement, and provided a wide frontage on Prosperity Farms road. This also joined the original 15 acres. The new land came with a small residence on it.
A campaign was launched to raise funds to build a school, part of which would serve temporarily as a Church. Groundbreaking took place on July 27, 1963 and the completed building was dedicated on December 22, 1963, in time for Christmas mass by Bishop Carroll.
The St. Clare Catholic School was completed and opened its doors in September 1964.
The Early Years
Pastor: Reverend John William Schlinkmann (1962-72), Assistant Pastor: Reverend Robert Palmer,
Clergy: Reverend James O’Donoghue, Reverend James Petersma, Reverend Louis Coty, Reverend Bradley
The new temporary church was located on the ground floor of what is now the school building. They had steel folding chairs instead of pews. Almost immediately it became apparent that the facility was going to be too small to house the rapidly growing congregation.
The upper floor of the building was designated for classrooms. As the school expanded, adding grades each year from fourth grade on, classrooms were provided by a four classroom addition in 1967. However this continuing expansion made it necessary to commence reducing the size of the temporary church to provide the two additional classrooms required each year. The sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine agreed to organize the school and be responsible for the faculty arrangements and curriculum. The faculty was composed of three sisters of St. Joseph and three lay school teachers. There were 70 students in each grade or 220 students in the 6 classrooms. By 1966, four additional classes were built and staffed. The enrollment for the first year of school was 170 students. Tuition was $20 per month.
The rectory was built for $18,000 and the money was raised in two weeks in a campaign headed by Ed Lucas.
Father John Schlinkmann purchased three schoolbuses which were used both as transportation for the CCD and for students during inclement weather.
In November 1967, the men of the Parish organized to conduct a fund raising campaign for completion of the church which would accomodate 1100 persons for Mass. Volunteers totaled 185 men organized as the
Developmental Program Commitee. Almost $250,000 had been raised before Christmas that year. Dozens of families and individuals donated “Living Memorials,” almost everything needed for furnishing and equipping the new church.
A memorial plaque was erected in the new temporary church as a lasting tribute to the generosity of members.
Dedication of Church
Pastor: Reverend John William Schlinkmann (1962-72)
Clergy: Reverend James O’Donoghue, Reverend James Petersma, Reverend Robert Palmer
In 1968, the nuns were housed in a newly built convent that is now the rectory.
The 1,000 capacity church was built opposite the school during much of 1968 and the first 8 months of 1969. Father Schlinkmann celebrated the first mass in the present structure on Sunday, August 18, 1969.
St Clare Catholic Church was dedicated September 13, 1969, by Archbishop Coleman Francis Carroll. This Church had the distinction of being the first Christian Church in Northern Palm Beach County.
Hundreds of parishioner and St Clare school children packed the new air conditioned church for the dedication ceremony.
Following the dedication, there was a dinner held in celebration at the then PGA Clubhouse nearby, later to become the JDM Club. It was attended by 300 individuals.
The small residential house acquired with the 1961 purchase of the 5.5 acres had a small parish hall added to it and was later converted into use as a parish office.
Pastor: Reverend John William Schlinkmann (1962-72), Reverend Neil Fleming (1972-1981)
Clergy: Reverend Robert Palmer, Reverend Georges Beauregard, Reverend Patrick O’Connor, Reverend Jude Krogol, Reverend Robert Lochner, Reverend Daniel Sanchez, Reverend Leo Armbrust, Reverend Bonaventure Gonella, Reverend James Johnson.
In August of 1970, St. Clare Parish was split, and two new parishes, St. Paul of the Cross, and St. Ignatius of Loyola, were created.
On April 13, 1972, Father Schlinkmann was reassigned. Father Neil Fleming became the third Pastor of St. Clare Church.
In 1976, St Clare parish held its 16th annual Spring Festival.
Under Father Fleming’s administration, the current Parish Hall was built in 1977.
Archbishop McCarthy blessed the new Parish center. Mass was followed by a reception in the new center. Before this construction, a small structure at the entrance of the Church had been used as an office and Parish Hall. The new building provided space for school children to eat lunch and for various Parish community activities with a stage available as well as a kitchen which was installed at a later date.
A library was built in 1978 capable of seating 40 students. The school was accredited by the Florida Catholic Conference in May, 1979. About this time, six acres of land were developed for athletic purposes.
In 1979, the Knights of Columbus moved to North Palm Beach using St. Clare Church facilities as a meeting place.
Progress and Growth
Pastors: Reverend Neil Fleming (1972-1981), Reverend Ronald Brohamer (1982-1983), Reverend William D. O’Shea (1983-Present)
Associate Pastor: Reverend John Paszko, Reverend Joseph Angelini, Reverend Peter Van Nguyen, Reverend Thomas Cauley
Clergy: Reverend Georges Beauregard, Reverend Bonaventure Gonella, Reverend Michael Tabit, Reverend Clem Limberger
Pastor Neil Fleming was succeeded by Pastor Ronald Brohamer.
In 1983, Father William D. O’Shea was appointed Pastor, and arrived at St. Clare, after assignments at St. Patrick, St. Mark, and Holy Rosary in Miami.
Kindergarten classes started in 1985. In 1986, the new Library was completed. In 1987, Father O’Shea celebrated 25 years of Ordination to the Priesthood.
In 1989, the Kindergarten building was expanded and remodeled and made into two Kindergarten classes. The school instituted its own on-sight computer lab.
Our Parish Journey
Pastor: Reverend William D. O’Shea (1983-Present)
Parochial Vicars: Reverend Thomas Cauley, Reverend Michael Allison, Reverend Kevin MacGabhann, Reverend Thoman O’Flanagan, Reverend John Pasquini
Deacon: Albert Wesley
Father William D. O’Shea continued to serve the Parish as the fifth Pastor of St. Clare Church.
Following the Second Vatican Council, some dioceses allowed girls to act as altar servers. With the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, girls were allowed to become altar servers, without any explicit decision on the matter from the Holy See. Girls of the St. Clare School and CCD were invited to become Altar Servers with the 1994 declaration that there was no canonical prohibition against girl altar servers. Prior to this, this honor was reserved for the boys of this Parish. Today these altar boys and girls, serve scheduled masses each week; celebrate weddings, parish celebrations and funerals.
In 1995, during the rainy season, St. Clare Church experienced serious roof leaks that required extensive repair. The Church services and activities were temporarily moved to the Parish Hall. At this time the flat roof was retained but enhanced with a gable roof on top of the existing structure.
The school’s yearly fundraiser started in 1995. Themed ‘Mardi Gras’ it was a success. Enrollment rose steadily over the next five years to over 500 students. The school served parishes of northern Palm Beach County which consisted of St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Paul of the Cross, St. Jude, St. Peter, St. Patrick, and St. Clare. During the 1990’s the school added additional computers, established a computer rotation and had over one hundred computers. Other enhancements to the school continued through the nineties.
Faith, Hope, and Love
Pastor: Reverend William D. O’Shea (1983-Present)
Parochial Vicars: Reverend John Pasquini, Reverend Giuseppe Savaia
Deacon: Albert Wesley
Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, devastated North Palm Beach in the fall of 2005 were the cause of major damage to both the school and parish hall. The devastation caused our close knit community to divide into three separate campuses.
Father O’Shea and principal Andrew Houvouras designed a plan to relocate students and staff for the remainder of the school year.
The kindergarteners remained in their unharmed building on the original campus along with first grade that relocated into the undamaged library building. The 1st grade along with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades moved to a building provided by the parish of St. Paul of the Cross on Singer Island.
The 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades were relocated to a vacant wing in the new All Saints school in Jupiter. Teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and students all joined together to pack up and move the entire school to the new locations. Despite the inconveniences, faithful parents continued to provide transportation to all locations.
Under Father O’Shea’s direction, renovations were made and the school reopened earlier than scheduled.
Approximately 500 students and their parents returned to the St. Clare campus just in time for graduation ceremonies in May 2005.
On June 11, 2008 Deacon Albert Wesley celebrates 25 years in the Diaconate.
2010 Golden Jubilee
Pastor: Reverend William D. O’Shea
Parochial Vicar: Reverend Giuseppe Savaia
Deacon: Albert Wesley
Reverend Thomas Wenski is appointed fourth Archbishop of Miami.
St. Clare is a stewardship Parish. As we celebrate our Jubilee year, the St. Clare Parish family continues to grow and respond to the pastoral needs of the community of North Palm Beach.
Our Liturgical Ministries include Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Ushers, Altar Servers, Prayer Ministries of Eucharistic Adoration and the Rosary; Adult Growth with
Engaged and Marriage Encounters, Pastoral Ministry of the Women of St. Clare (CCW), Cub Scouts, Educational Ministries of CCD, RCIA, Scripture study, Outreach ministries of the Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent De Paul Society and Respect Life. Consider serving this parish in one of our many ministries, activities or programs.
St. Clare Parish recognizes the hundreds of volunteers over the past 50 years who have given so generously of their time and talents in the church, school and community. In 1960 several families in this community heard and accepted God’s calling to build a faith community in Northern Palm Beach County. Today many of these families or descendents of these founding families are still involved and offer a profound perspective in our Parish community.
St. Clare School continues to provide quality education, adhering to catholic values and principles through their message, service, worship and community.
The Knights of Columbus, Santa Maria Council No. 4999 continues to provide service to the parish and community with countless hours of service and financial support.
Thank you to all our parishioners who work, volunteer, pray and play in our St. Clare community.
Check our website for constant updated information about upcoming events and activities www.stclarechurch.net