In August 1940, Joseph Patrick Hurley was appointed the sixth Bishop of St. Augustine, Florida, by Pope Pius XII. Bishop Hurley was tasked with building the Catholic Church in Florida. At the time, there were about two million people in Florida, of which some 60,000 were Roman Catholics.
Bishop Hurley was known to climb into a small plane, fly over vast tracts of undeveloped Florida, then point out where he wanted new parishes established. On land he’d identify sites from the seat of a Pontiac, which he drove back and forth, and up and down the state.
In all, Hurley established about 100 parishes. One was created on a 15-acre site at mile marker 89.5 on Plantation Key, south of Key Largo, in the Florida Keys. This is our San Pedro Catholic Church.
According to Florida Keys historian, Jerry Wilkinson, “The architect was Thomas Maddens Jr. and the builder William Stalcup. the bins at the main entrance are built from ballast stone from the wreck of the San Pedro with solid mahogany doors with sculptured panels by Richard Carrol. The communion bell was once used in a small Mexican Chapel and the tower bell was cast in 1917. Many of the lighting fixtures are copies of the famous Majano lanterns of Rome.”
Wilkinson reports, “the church was dedicated in February 1955 [by Bishop Hurley] as the Mission de San Pedro Roman Catholic Church recalling that the first churches in Florida were erected by Spanish Settlers.”
The mission was designated a parish in 1959 with Father Luis Altonaga as the first local pastor.
Fittingly named for St. Peter, a fisherman, our small parish thrives on the faith, participation and generosity of our members. With open hearts we invite you to join us to celebrate mass.