FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) – Broward County’s oldest Catholic church is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
St. Anthony Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale will celebrate its centennial anniversary with a Saturday afternoon Mass.
“It’s the oldest parish in Broward County,” Father Michael Grady said. “We’re turning 100, so we’re celebrating!”
The original church on Las Olas Boulevard was established in 1921 as the Pioneer Parish. Its accompanying school opened five years later on Northeast Third Street.
In the 1940s, a hurricane forced the parish to rebuild near the school, and that building opened to the public in 1948.
Sister Therese Margaret Robert, 94, said she remembers the building opening. She has spent most of her life in Fort Lauderdale, dedicating it to God, the church and her students.
“They come from a pioneer family,” she said. “They came here in 1910. I attended St. Anthony’s School. After high school, I entered the Dominican Sisters Convent. There have been so many prominent people that have attended. I had the privilege of teaching Chris Evert.”
The McCormack family has spent 50 years at St. Anthony.
“In the magazine business, again we didn’t intend it that way, but so many of our contacts, so many of our clients all turned out to be St. Anthony,” Bernard McCormack said. “We didn’t know it, and the influence of the class is just remarkable. Starting with the Gore family that owned the Sun-Sentinel for years.”
With countless Baptisms, First Communions, football and basketball teams and cheerleaders, the school and the parish holds a lot of memories and history for the Fort Lauderdale community.
“My dad, who’s still alive at the age of 93, was baptized here,” Jim Camp III said. “I’m one of five, and we were all baptized here, as well. We’re members here with the school here, went on to St. Thomas Aquinas, and I have five children, and they were all baptized here.”
The church has also stood the test of time.
“St. Anthony is not only not closed, but it’s thrived thanks to the location and the growth of downtown,” McCormack said.
“I hope that it’s always here,” Camp III said. “I guess I’d like to see some of my grandchildren to continue part of their life here, as well.”
“We are messengers of hope,” Father Grady said. “The world needs hope right now. If you’re looking for a place to pray, we welcome everyone. We’d love to help you.”
The centennial Mass will begin at 5 p.m.
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