Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Historic Church in Nassau Growing at 2 Sites; St. Michael's in Fernandina Expands, with New Mission Church in Yulee

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Historic Church in Nassau Growing at 2 Sites; St. Michael's in Fernandina Expands, with New Mission Church in Yulee

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan

One of Nassau County's historic churches is growing twofold, expanding the facilities in Fernandina Beach and building another in Yulee.

Expansion at the 142-year-old St. Michael's Catholic Church at 505 Broome St. will increase seating from 289 to 533. The increase is needed because it is crowded at six weekend services, with a 4 p.m. Saturday Catholic service added at Yulee United Methodist Church to serve parishioners there.

The Rev. Jose Kallukalam at St. Michael's said expansion became a high priority when he came there in 2011.

"I saw people standing at the back at every Mass; elderly people feeling frustrated because they had to stand and***I saw some families leaving the church because there was no seat," Kallukalam said. "I thought of adding one more Mass on Sunday and I did it for a year, but that was not a permanent solution. So I asked the people what their priority was, and their first priority was 'Expand the space.' "

The $3 million expansion should be done in June, embraced by many of the parish's 1,700 families, church business manager Tom Hable said.

"We see optimism like crazy," Hable said. "... People are seeing the growth and liking it and contributing to the growth. The vast majority of the people are supporting the pastor."

The church was founded in 1872, with the current sanctuary and its red brick school next door in the middle of Fernandina Beach's historic district. The county's only other permanent Catholic church is 28 miles away in Callahan.

Plans for St. Michael's expansion have been discussed before, and a 2001 attempt was denied by the city. But a more recent proposal was approved and architect Jose Miranda designed the extension for the east side of the sanctuary.

Work on the foundation is continuing while new pews, stained-glass windows and a baptismal font have been designed. …

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