It has been a parish longer than there has been an Archdiocese of Miami. For 60 years, thousands have gathered at Blessed Trinity to seek God, grow in faith and celebrate Mass as a parish family.
On Sept. 6, the community filled the church to celebrate the parish’s 60th anniversary and to witness the blessing of the Father Joseph T. Carney Enrichment Center. The center houses the school’s newly-opened Pre-K2 and Pre-K3 classrooms as well as ministry meeting rooms.
“I am very happy to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Blessed Trinity Parish with you and with your parish priests, Father Jose Alfaro and Father Isidro Perez,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski during the homily. “Sixty years might not seem like a long time for a Church that is almost 2,000 years old; but here in this still young archdiocese, an archdiocese that is only 55 years old, 60 years is certainly something to celebrate.”
Joined by priests and deacons who once served the parish, the archbishop celebrated Mass alongside the one priestly vocation that has come out of Blessed Trinity, Father David Smith.
“It’s been a very emotional evening, getting to come back here to my roots and be part of this celebration,” said Father Smith. “The dedication Mass of the church was my first Communion Mass. I went to school here. It’s also the place I celebrated my first Mass as a priest and where the funeral Mass was held for my parents and sister. It’s just home.”
As the Mass was ending, children of all ages exited the church and began the preparations for the blessing ceremony. Reminiscent of when the church was dedicated 60 years ago, children lit the path for the archbishop to bless the new building. With hundreds gathered before him, Archbishop Wenski sprinkled holy water on the walls of the building and blessed all those present. “A lot of people put their heart and soul into this building and it’s great to see that it has been finalized and the students can enjoy it,” said Omar Rodriguez, a parishioner for more than a decade. “Everyone is united in this community. People actually help one another in time of need. These are the qualities that make this parish so special.”
Adorning the exterior wall of the Father Joseph T. Carney Enrichment Center is a 4-by-5 foot, 150-pound bronze cross created by Blessed Trinity School’s art teacher, Natalie Calvo. The cross took 10 months to make and has a double representation of the Blessed Trinity.
For the celebration, the second floor all-purpose room of the new enrichment center was converted into a parish museum chronicling every decade of its history.
“I am very proud, I am honored to be here and I’m happy that we were able to honor a man that worked so hard for everything that we are enjoying today,” said Maria Teresa Perez, former school principal. “We are also blessed to be joined by so many people that have given so much of themselves to this parish and today we reap those benefits. Hopefully, we are sowing those seeds for the future.”
Nestled between Hialeah and Miami International Airport, Miami Springs is a city of less than 15,000 people tucked away behind magnificent trees, an oasis between the bustling highways of N.W. 36th Street and Okeechobee Road.
Blessed Trinity began as a mission of neighboring St. John the Apostle Parish in Hialeah. In 1953, the community celebrated its first Mass inside a tent on the grounds of a plantation. The first pastor was Father James Nelan. In 1957, construction began on the church and school. At the time, the parish shared a pastor, Msgr. Dominic Barry, with another Hialeah church, Immaculate Conception.
Over the next 30 years, as the church and school buildings were completed and the parish community grew, Blessed Trinity was served by eight more pastors. Then in 1982, Archbishop Edward McCarthy appointed Father Joseph T. Carney as pastor.
He spearheaded an era of change and growth and served the parish for three decades, until his unexpected death earlier this year. By then he had become an integral member of the parish community. In fact, many viewed him as a member of the family.
“Father Carney used to always say that the school was the heart of the parish and I believe that the school fuels the parish. Children give life to the parish,” said Perez, who began working at Blessed Trinity School in 2000 as its seventh grade teacher. Eventually she moved to fifth grade and in 2003 she became the school’s 12th principal.
“I believe that anytime children are involved you can see Christ through them,” Perez said.
In 2000, the parish refurbished the church, completely overhauling the interior. It was rededicated Sept. 16, 2001 by Archbishop John C. Favalora. Over the next few years, a residence for priests was built and the school expanded, adding a Pre-K3 class. The Pre-K2 opened this year.
The death of Father Carney left the parish with temporary administrators that helped support the community in their time of grief: Father James Murphy followed by Father David Zirilli. In June, Archbishop Wenski named Father Jose Alfaro as permanent administrator.
“The welcome to this new parish has been outstanding, the people have been so hospitable. I feel a lot of support and prayer. I feel very blessed,” Father Alfaro said. “The commitment that the parishioners have to the parish community has stood out the most since I’ve been here. It’s a small community but incredibly tight knit and hard working.”
Blessed Trinity currently has more than 1,300 registered families and nearly 300 students enrolled in the school.
The new multi-purpose center had been Father Carney’s last project. It took nearly 10 years to complete and the community unanimously decided to name it in his honor.
“My dream for the parish in the next 60 years would be for it to build a chapel,” said Rahil Ghalloub, a 38-year parishioner and rosary group leader. “We’ve accomplished a lot as a parish and adding a chapel would be wonderful.”