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Saint James Cathedral Celebrates 125 Years of Orlando History

St. James Cathedral celebrates 125 years in downtown Orlando with a reunion this weekend of priests, religious and parishioners. The church continues its service to the community with a St. Vincent De Paul stewardship drive for the needy in our area and a celebration of community life with Sunday breakfast hosted by the Knights of Columbus service organization. In this excerpt from an oral history interview on March 26th, 2011, St. James parishioner Tom Wilkes shares his perspective on the future of St. James Cathedral and the rejuvenation of downtown Orlando.

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WWII Veteran Tom Connors Interview

Interview with WWII Veteran Tom Connors at St. James Cathedral Church, Orlando, FL, July 1st, 2010. Veteran Connors served in the Southwest Pacif...

Edie Hall, St. James Parishoner

Interview with St. James Parishioner Edie Hall at the "Sneak Preview" for the restored Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 13th...

Sister Nguyen, Sacristan at St. James Cathedral

Interview with Sister Nguyen, nun, at the "Sneak Preview" for the restored Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 13th, 2010. Born in...

James R. Smyth, St. James Cathedral Parishioner

Interview  with Orlando native James R. Smyth at the "Sneak Preview" for the restored Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 13th,...

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Serros, St. James Parishioners

Photo of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Serros at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, January 9th, 2011. Robert Serros is an Orlando...

Saint James Cathedral, May 1974

Photo of the interior of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, May 1974.   Photos courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo Archives.

Good Friday at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Marshall Shaker carrying the cross from the original St. James Church for Good Friday services at Saint James Cathedral in downtown...

First Communion at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of First Communion Mass celebrated by Father David Page at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, May 10th, 1981.   Photo courtesy of...

Bishop Grady and Father Page at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Bishop Grady, center, with Father Page, right, at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Bishop Thomas J. Grady was appointed second...

Bishop Grady and Priests at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Bishop Grady and priests at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Bishop Thomas J. Grady was appointed second Bishop of Orlando...

First Communion Procession at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of the First Communion procession through the atrium at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Circa 1970's.   Photo courtesy...

First Communion Mass at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of First Communion Mass at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Circa 1970's.   Photo courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo Archives.

First Communion at Saint James Cathedral

May 10th, 1981 photo of First Communion Mass at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.   Photo courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo...

Thanksgiving Mass at Saint James Cathedral

1984 photo of parishioners at Thanksgiving Mass at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Pictured front and center are Kelly Wilkes, age  2,...

Christmas at Saint James Cathedral

1982 Christmas photo of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.   Photo courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo Archives.

Coffee and Donuts at Saint James Cathedral

1984 Christmas photo of coffee and donuts in the atrium of the Cathedral Center after Mass at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. &nb...

Bishop Dorsey at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Bishop Norbert Dorsey at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. The Most Reverend Norbert M. Dorsey, served as Bishop of Orlando...

Father Page with the Heidrichs at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Father Page with Mr. and Mrs. Herman J. Heidrich presenting the gifts  in the new Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Saint James...

Bishop Dorsey Serving Communion at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Bishop Norbert Dorsey serving Communion to Debbie Ryan, Parish Council President, at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Deacon Bob Ki...

Christmas at Saint James Cathedral, 1984

1984 Christmas photo of parishioners Mark and Donna Smithberger at Mass at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Photo courtesy of the Mario...

Bishop Grady Presenting the Homily at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Bishop Thomas L. Grady presenting the homily at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.  Bishop Thomas J. Grady was appointed second...

Saint James Cathedral Parishioners in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

Photo of Saint James Cathedral Ushers, Dewitt Cudd, center, and Bill Smith, right,  receiving Communion at the Dedication Mass for the Blessed...

Dedication Mass of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Father Page and parishioners at the Dedication Mass of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. St....

Mr. Heidrich at the Dedication Mass for the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

Photo of Mr. Heidrich receiving Communion from Father Page  at  the Dedication Mass for the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Saint James Cathedral...

The Creche at Saint James Cathedral, Christmas 1984

Photo of the Christmas creche at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando for Christmas 1984.   Photo courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo Archives.

Saint Patrick's Day at Saint James Cathedral, 1982

1982 photo of Saint Patrick's Day festivities at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.   Photo courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo Archives.

Palm Sunday at Saint James Cathedral, 1984

Photo of parishioners from St. James and St. Luke's Cathedral in the parking lot of Saint James Cathedral on Palm Sunday, April...

Betty Wheeler, St. James Parishioner

Interview with Orlando native Betty Wheeler at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando March 18th, 2011.  Elizabeth Cangelose was born just down...

Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Sisters of Notre Dame nun and Director of Pastoral Ministry at St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

St. James Cathedral 1885-1985 Centennial Publication

Cover of St. James Cathedral 1885-1985 Centennial Publication.

Bill Buning, St. James Cathedral

Bill Buning of Orlando receives National Catholic Education Association Award. Article from Jubilee, St. James Cathedral parish newsletter, Februrary 1996, v. 22 #1.

Marie Adams, St. James Cathedral

1985 photo of Marie Adams in the office at Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Marie Adams served as the Business Administrator...

St. James Cathedral Remembers Our Veterans

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St. James Cathedral Remembers Our Veterans

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St. James Cathedral Remembers Our Veterans

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St. James Cathedral Remembers Our Veterans

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St. James Cathedral Altar Servers

November 28th, 1980 photo of the altar servers in procession at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

Joan and Bill Buning, St. James Cathedral

July 1981 photo of St. James parishioners Bill and Joan Buning with Fr. Bill in the atrium of the Cathedral Center at Saint James Catho...

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day at St. James Cathedral

1980's photo of Joan and Bill Buning celebrating St. Patrick's Day in the Community Life Center at St. James Cathedral in downtown...

Tom and Jean Wilkes at St. James Cathedral

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Mardi Gras at St. James Cathedral

March 1982 photo of Cathy Buning Steiger and her husband Jim Steiger enjoying Mardi Gras festivities in the Community Life Center at St....

Valentine's Day at St. James Cathedral

February 1992 photo of Jim and Cathy Steiger at a Valentine's Day celebration at St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

Father John McCormick, Rector of Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Father John McCormick at work in the office at Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando, 215 North Orange Avenue. Dublin...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

1980's photo of parishioners enjoying  coffee and donuts  in the atrium of St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Eve Rupp, President of...

St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

Groundbreaking for the Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center at the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street in downtown Orlando. ...

St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

Photo of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Community LIfe Center at Saint James Cathedral on the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street...

St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

Saint James Cathedral  property  at  the  corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street cleared for construction of the new Communi...

St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

Photo of Saint James Cathedral property at the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street cleared to make room for the construction of the...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

Photo of the excavation for the Community Life Center on the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street at Saint James Cathedral in...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

Photo of Saint James Cathedral Choir and parishioners at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center in downtown...

St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

Bishop Grady enjoys a donut in the kitchen of the Community Life Center at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.   Fr. Page, Pastor...

St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

Parish social  event coordinator Elsee Smith prepares  Father John McCormick for Saint Patrick's Day festivities in the Community Life Cente...

St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

Photo of the Community Life Center Atrium under construction at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

Around the Block

Photo of the home built by Mr. Clarence Marsh at 315 Cathcart Avenue in downtown Orlando. In 1980  the family of the...

Mardi Gras at Saint James Cathedral

March 1992 photo of Mardi Gras at Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center in downtown Orlando.   Fr. Page, Pastor of St. James Cathedral...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

Frank and Betsy Walters, right, greet other parishioners in the atrium of the Community Life Center at Saint James Cathedral in downtown...

Saint James Cathedral

Parishioners enjoy a delicious community potluck at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.   In addition to many parties and parish activiti...

St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

Parishioners fellowship in the atrium of the Community Life Center at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.   The Community Life C...

Saint Patrick's Day Celebrations!

Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in the Community Life Center at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

 Vincent and Arline Benedetti, long time parishioners of St. James, enjoy a church dinner in the Community Life Center at Saint James...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

  Sharing hospitality in the Community LIfe Center of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. In addition to many parties and parish acti...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life

Community plant sale at Saint James Cathedral Community LIfe Center in downtown Orlando.   Fr. Page, Pastor of St. James Cathedral 1972-1986, en...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

Church fellowship in the Community Life Center at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.  In addition to many parties and parish activities, ...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

Dramatic presentation  in the Community Life Center of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, March 31, 1985.  Father David Page,  ...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

Dramatic presentation in the Community Life Center of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, March 31, 1985.  Father David Page, Pa...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

Dramatic presentation in the Community Life Center of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, March 31, 1985.  Father David Page, Pa...

Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center

Religious education dramatic presentation in the Community Life Center of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, March 31, 1985.   Fathe...

Saint Patrick's Day at Saint James Cathedral

You're never too young to dance a jig! 1982 photo of Saint Patrick's Day festivities in the Community Life Center at Saint James Cathedral...

Saint Patrick's Day at Saint James Cathedral

1982 photo of Saint Patrick's Day  festivities  in the Community Life Center at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.   Fr. P...

Mardi Gras at Saint James Cathedral

Enjoying Mardi Gras in the Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center in downtown Orlando.   Father David Page, St. James Cathedral Pa...

Blanka Roberts, Principal of Saint James School

1983 photo of Saint James School Principal  Blanka Roberts, left, with Saint James Cathedral parishioners Fran Krehl and Frank Sevick at the...

Blanka Roberts Celebrates 25 Years as Saint James School Principal

Blanka Roberts  slices the cake as admiring students look on at the  1983  anniversary celebration honoring her 25 years of service to...

Blanka Roberts Celebrates 25 Years as Saint James School Principal

"Thank you Blanka " is the message on the anniversary cake for Blanka Roberts honoring her 25 years of service to the school...

Blanka Roberts Celebrates 25 Years as Saint James School Principal

1983 photo of Saint James School Principal  Blanka Roberts, center,  at an anniversary celebration honoring  her 25 years of  outs...

Fr. John McCormick, Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Father John McCormick at work in the office at Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando, 215 North Orange Avenue. Dublin born...

The Benedetti's, Saint James Cathedral

September 4th, 2011 photo of Vincent and Arline Benedetti at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

Fran Abeel, Saint James Cathedral

Photo of parishioner Fran Abeel at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, September 3rd, 2011.

St. James Cathedral School

Three generations of Bunings are featured on the cover of St. James Cathedral School, Fall 2007, vol. 2, Issue 1, newsletter. The Buning...

St. James Cathedral School

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St. James Cathedral School

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Wedding of Frank Sevick and Mary Jane Bowman, Saint James Cathedral

September 25th, 1982 wedding of Frank Sevick and Mary Jane Bowman at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Filename: sevicks.mp3 (listen)

Wedding of Frank and Mary Jane Sevick, Saint James Cathedral

September 25th, 1982 wedding of Frank Sevick and Mary Jane Bowman at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. The priest is Father...

Sister Mary Catherine Brennan and the Sevicks at Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Sister Mary Catherine Brennan with Frank and Mary Jane Sevick at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral

1999 brochure A Short Tour of St. James Cathedral with photos and brief history of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando....

St. James Roman Catholic Church

"A new ecclesiastical look is given the downtown Orlando skyline with completion of St. James Roman Catholic Church." March 9, 1952, Orlando...

St. James Community Life Center

Model of new St. James Center. Above is an architect's model of the proposed St. James Community Life Center, to be build...

Dedication of St. James Roman Catholic Church

"A new ecclesiastical look is given the downtown Orlando skyline with completion of St. James Roman Catholic Church." Illustration caption. St. James ...

Michael R. Walsh, St. James Cathedral Parishioner

September 11th, 2011 photo of Orlando attorney Michael R. Walsh at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Hear highlights from his oral history...

Saint James Cathedral

Photo of children engaged in learning at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.         Photo courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo Archives.

Saint James Cathedral Holiday Boutique

Photo from Saint James Cathedral Holiday Boutique in downtown Orlando.

Father David Page, Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Father David Page and parishioners at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando collecting food for the poor in our community.

Monsignor Farley, Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Monsignor Farley at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.   Photo courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo Archives.

Stewardship at Saint James Cathedral

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Saint James Cathedral

April 15th, 1984 photo of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

First Communion at Saint James Cathedral

May 8th, 1983 photo of celebrating First Communion Mass at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

WWII Veteran Michael A. Monell

Photo of World War II Veteran Michael A. Monell at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 9, 2011. Michael is one of...

Christmas at Saint James Cathedral

1986 Christmas photo at Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Photo courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo Archives.

First Communion at Saint James Cathedral

May 10th, 1981 photo of First Communion at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

First Communion at Saint James Cathedral

May 10th, 1981 photo of First Communion at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

First Communion at Saint James Cathedral

May 10th, 1981 photo of First Communion Mass at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

First Communion at Saint James Cathedral

May 10th, 1981 photo of First Communion at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

Holiday Boutique at Saint James Cathedral

Photo from Saint James Cathedral Holiday Boutique in downtown Orlando.

Saint James Cathedral School Social

Saint James Cathedral Religious Education Director Frank Sevick points in fun with fellow parishioners at the hoedown at Saint James Cathedral School...

Father David Page, Saint James Cathedral

1983 photo of Father David Page Pastor of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando from 1972-1986.    

Saint James Cathedral School

October 1979 photo of Father David Page speaking with parishioners in front of Saint James Cathedral School on Ridgewood Avenue in downtown...

Bishop Grady, Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Bishop Grady and Father David Page in entrance procession for Mass at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

Saint James Cathedral

Bishop Grady and Father David Page receive food for the poor from parishioners of all ages  during Thanksgiving Mass, 1984, at Saint...

Saint James Cathedral

Groundbreaking for the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Saint James Cathedral on Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando. Father David Page, pastor of Saint James...

Saint Patrick's Day at Saint James Cathedral

1982 photo of Father David Page leading Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in the Community Life Center at Saint James Cathedral in downtown...

Saint James Cathedral

Photo of Bishop Thomas Grady and Father David Page receiving gifts from Saint James parishioners for the poor in our community. Saint James...

Saint James Cathedral

Ground breaking ceremony for the building of the  Saint James Cathedral Community Life Center at the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson...

Sister Mary Catherine Brennan, Saint James Cathedral

October 1985 photo of  Sister Mary Catherine Brennan, center,  Director of Music at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, with  St...

St. James Catholic Church Postcard circa 1940

Color linen postcard of St. James Catholic Church circia 1940-1950.

WWII Veteran Tom Connors Interview Part I

Interview with WWII Veteran Tom Connors at St. James Cathedral Church, Orlando, FL, July 1st, 2010.

Veteran Connors served in the Southwest Pacific during the war in extremely native areas such as New Guinea and Okinawa. He is the only living survivor from the original WWII Navy 7th Fleet Amphibious Force. Hear his firsthand detailed account of landing in New Britain, delivering mail through New Guinea, listening to Tokyo Rose on the radio, seeing the Bob Hope Show  in New Guinea and meeting Russian female soldiers on a train from Manchuria.  Veteran Connors  shares his memories of the crew and ships he experienced while serving his country.  At the beginning of WWII they worked on a wooden ship  from WWI because that is what they had.  They had a good  navigator  Bill Robinson, who went on to become managing editor of  Yachting  magazine.

Having  studied radio in New York at RCA Radio School, Veteran Connors worked the radio shack on the ship and was the  radio man  receiving the message from President Truman: "We have dropped an A-bomb on Hiroshima". He discusses the Japanese suicide bombers, typhoons and mines at sea.

He is thankful to God to be close to death and survive it. He says, "If you're ever called on to serve this country, serve it.  It will be an honor and you'll be proud."




WWII Veteran Tom Connors Interview Part II

Interview with  WWII  Veteran Tom Connors at St. James Cathedral Church, Orlando, FL, July 1st, 2010. Veteran Connors served in the Southwest Pacific during the war in extremely native areas such as New Guinea and Okinawa. He is the only living survivor from the original WWII Navy 7th Fleet Amphibious Force. Hear his firsthand detailed account of landing in New Britain, delivering mail through New Guinea, listening to Tokyo Rose on the radio, seeing the Bob Hope Show in New Guinea and meeting Russian female soldiers on a train from Manchuria. Veteran Connors shares his memories of the crew and ships he experienced while serving his country.

At the beginning of WWII they worked on a wooden ship from WWI because that is what they had. They had a good navigator Bill Robinson, who went on to become managing editor of Yachting magazine. Having studied radio in New York at RCA radio school, Veteran Connors worked the radio shack on the ship and was the radio man receiving the message from President Truman: "We have dropped an A-bomb on Hiroshima".

He discusses the Japanese suicidal bombers, typhoons and mines at sea. He is thankful to God to be close to death and survive it. He says, "If you're ever called on to serve this country, serve it. It will be an honor and you'll be proud.

 

 




WWII Veteran Tom Connors Interview Part III

Interview with WWII Veteran Tom Connors at St. James Cathedral Church, Orlando, FL, July 1st, 2010.

Veteran Connors served in the Southwest Pacific during the war in extremely native areas such as New Guinea and Okinawa. He is the only living survivor from the original WWII Navy 7th Fleet Amphibious Force. Hear his firsthand detailed account of landing in New Britain, delivering mail through New Guinea, listening to Tokyo Rose on the radio, seeing the Bob Hope Show  in New Guinea and meeting Russian female soldiers on a train from Manchuria.  Veteran Connors  shares his memories of the crew and ships he experienced while serving his country.  At the beginning of WWII they worked on a wooden ship  from WWI because that is what they had.  They had a good  navigator  Bill Robinson, who went on to become managing editor of Yachting magazine.

Having  studied radio in New York at RCA Radio School, Veteran Connors worked the radio shack on the ship and was the  radio man  receiving the message from President Truman: "We have dropped an A-bomb on Hiroshima". He discusses the Japanese suicide bombers, typhoons and mines at sea.

He is thankful to God to be close to death and survive it. He says, "If you're ever called on to serve this country, serve it.  It will be an honor and you'll be proud."

 




WWII Veteran Jerry Kinsley Interview Part I

Interview with World War II Veteran Jerry Kinsley at St. James Cathedral in Orlando, FL, August 12th, 2010.

Veteran Kinsley served in the 90th Naval Construction Battalion in and around Japan. A contracter by profession, Mr. Kinsley was at work building  the plant  for the  atomic bomb when he  quit to serve in the military. He saw many boys coming back from the war who had lost limbs and he thought "I got to do something to help".  He went directly to the volunteer office on Orange Avenue  in downtown Orlando and volunteered. A week after bootcamp he was in Pearl Harbor: "It was pretty well shot up. I saw a lot of ships on their  sides in the harbor."

Serving in WWII showed him "You can help other people." He is proud  he was a part of WWII and that we did win. He says, "It is unbelievable we could be in the spot we were in with nothing and in a year's time we got more boats, planes, jeeps than there were in the rest of the world. Pretty good accomplishment for the boys fighting in WWII." Hear his firsthand account of these historic events. 




Mr. Jerry Kinsley Interview Part II

Interview with Mr. Jerry Kinsley, at Saint James Cathedral in Orlando, FL on August 12th, 2010.

Mr. Kinsley recalls coming to Orlando in 1939 and marrying  his wife, Elizabeth, at Saint James Catholic Church in downtown Orlando in 1941, when it was still a little wooden church. His daughter, Patricia, remembers the beautiful sound her dress shoes made on the church floor. She shares the memories with her husband, Al Stinson, of raising their four children at Saint James Cathedral Church and school.




WWII Veteran Mario Mesa Interview

Interview with World War II Veteran Mario Mesa, Jr. with his wife Glenette and daughter, Laurie, at their home in Orlando, FL, August 28th, 2010.

Mr. Mesa was born in Key West, FL and raised along the Florida  seashore. At age 17 he joined the U.S. Navy and was in Casco Bay, Maine when World War II began. Veteran Mesa landed at Normandy on D-Day at Fox Green Beach with the 6th Beach Battalion. His two superior officers were killed in battle  and Veteran Mesa took charge in their place. Veteran Mesa was at the International Dateline when WWII ended. He left the Navy in 1946 then joined the Reserves in 1950. He spent 38 years serving his country in the U.S. Navy and loved it! He retired as a Chief Boatswain's Mate, BSM, USN.

Hear how he met his wife Glenette at Morrison's Cafeteria on Orange Avenue in 1947, his love for flying a Stearman, and his service to our community as an usher for St. James Cathedral for 50 years.




Mayor Jerry Kinsley Interview

Interview with  the former  Mayor of Edgewood, Jerry Kinsley, at Saint James Cathedral, in Orlando, FL on  August 12th, 2010.

Mr. Kinsley was the Mayor of Edgewood  in the 1950's and early 1960's. He shares his delightful story of  receiving a phone call from  Edgewood resident and noted lawyer, Attorney Fishback,  asking him to be the mayor. At the time  the Town of Edgewood had six months to revive the town or the state would take it off the books. Here his firsthand account of how  Edgewood went from meeting in people's houses and passing a hat to pay for expenditures to building a Town Hall with tax revenue. In addition to his duties as Mayor of Edgewood, Mr. Kinsley also served as City Engineer and Police Chief.  




Jacke Heaps Interview

Interview with St. James Parishoner Jackie Heaps at St. James Catholic  Cathedral in Orlando, FL, November 6th, 2010.

Originally from Canada,  Jackie Heaps made her First Communion at St. James Cathedral in Montreal. She loves Orlando and now calls St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando home. She serves  her community by visting the sick, leading a small faith sharing group, and singing in the choir. She treasures the friends and people of St. James and  sees the future of St. James as wonderful, beautiful and continuing to grow. 




Edie Hall, St. James Parishoner

Interview with St. James Parishioner Edie Hall at the "Sneak Preview" for the restored Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 13th 2010.

Originally from New York City, Miss Hall enjoys living in Orlando and especially St. James Cathedral as she says, "The priests are a delight".

In this interview she shares   her memory of  meeting Music Director Bob Schaefer for the first time when she  inquired about joining the St. James Choir. She still sings in the choir as a soprano and her daughter, Valerie Hall,  serves as a cantor.  When asked what she treasures most about our community, she replied, "I treasure coming to church... I can't tell you how much coming to a beautiful church means to me. Belonging to whatever church you go to is an inspiration."  




Valerie Hall, St. James Parishioner

Interview with Valerie Hall at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 6th, 2010.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida Valerie Hall came to Orlando for a  great job opportunity and has been a member of St. James Cathedral for 12 years. She joined St. James because she liked the music program and the priests. She sings in the choir: soprano, alto, tenor and often serves as cantor. She says, "Giving back to the community is big at St. James, on an individual and community level." Ms. Hall loves working with the senior Prime Timers, the Knights of Columbus and is involved now preparing second graders for their First Communion.

When asked what she sees as the future of St. James she recalls her office group going to the Cathedral on 9/11 and says, "I think St. James will continue to be a light downtown. We're going to continue to serve, to bring people in, to be here for people of all faiths."




Yebrail K. Brennan, St. James Parishioner

Interview with Yebrail K. Brennan at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando  November  6th, 2010, two weeks before  the reopening of the Cathedral.  

Mr. Brennan's  earliest memory of Orlando is  St. James Cathedral. On his first visit to the area he stopped in to attend daily Mass in the Chapel and  has very fond memories of this visit.  Mr. Brennan  eventually  moved  here from New York City to be closer to his family and is thankful that St. James is right downtown where he can come in for quiet time. He believes St. James Cathedral is going to continue to be a spiritual haven for people in Orlando as the city continues to grow and prosper. 

Hear his memories of singing at Saint Patrick's Cathedral as a boy in New York City and his gratefulness at serving in Saint James Cathedral Choir in Orlando today!




Sister Nguyen, Sacristan at St. James Cathedral

Interview with Sister Nguyen, nun, at the "Sneak Preview" for the restored Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 13th, 2010.

Born in Vietnam, Sister Nguyen came to Orlando with the Incarnation of Consecration of Mission to work with the Vietnamese community. Growing up in Vietnam, Sister Nguyen recalls church on Sunday as an all day event with many programs throughout the day for youth. Her family and priests always encouraged vocations and most of the senior youth joined religious life. Regarding her life here in America, she says, "We learn a lot from our American friends...the openness. [They] are willing to share not only what they have, but themselves, too. They really share a lot. They don't care if you're a stranger or not - you're God's children - they're willing to help you." From her first visit to St. James Cathedral, she felt welcomed by the community. She says, "I hope people feel welcome in God's house." She treasures the freedom of life in America, the chance to be whatever you can, and shares her joy in worshipping with the community at St. James Cathedral.




Juan Carvajal, St. James Parishioner

Interview with Juan Carvajal at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 6th, 2010, two weeks before the reopening of the Cathedral.

Originally from Columbia, South America, Mr. Carvajal loves living in  Orlando and says, "It has the sense of a small town". He  serves his community  as  an usher at the Spanish Masses and helps with religious education. For him, St. James Cathedral feels like home. He says, "I would like to spend the rest of my life here, get married here, and have my kids attend this church." He was confirmed at St. James Cathedral  by Bishop Wenski and shares his beautiful memory of the event in this interview.




Theodora Saunders, St. James Parishioner

Interview with Theodora Saunders docent at the "Sneak Preview" for the restored Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 13th, 2010.

Born in Nassau, Bahamas, Ms. Saunders treasures the community spirit in Orlando.  Both her children, Clivette and Clivanya, were confirmed at Saint James and  are  now  members of the youth board. They serve as a family helping out at St. Patrick's Day dinners and enjoy the extended family life of the  St. James community. Ms. Saunders says, "It lifts my spirit when I come here." She is happy to be a part of  St. James Cathedral and celebrates the 125 year history of the church. Regarding the future of  St. James, she sees  it  growing as a church and says the restored Cathedral is, "Breathtaking!"  




Ben Porter, Grand Knight at St. James Cathedral

Interview with Ben Porter, Grand Knight of the altars servers at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, December 7th, 2010.

Born in Central Florida, Ben's earliest memory of the area is the fresh oranges his mother picked from a neighborhood orange grove. To this day, Ben still enjoys fresh homegrown oranges, they have a tree in their yard, and looks forward to the coming citrus season. A  true  Floridian, he enjoys the climate of the sunshine state and says, "I don't own a winter jacket and never will  if  I  stay here." He has been a member of St. James Cathedral since he was a baby and an altar server since the fourth grade. He says, "I feel like [St. James] has had a huge impact on my life. Without my faith I'd be a totally different person. It really helped establish my morals, my values, how I treat people..." Hear his memory of his St. James school kindergarten teacher Mrs. Burford and his experience of serving his community as a Grand Knight altar server at St. James Cathedral.




Jean Wilkes, St. James Parishioner

Her first memory of Orlando was the beauty of the city when she followed her husband, Tom Wilkes, here 30 years ago. She recalls it really was the city beautiful. In this oral history interview, November 6th, 2010 at the Sneak Preview for the restored Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando, Jean Wilkes shares how involvement in St. James church and school have been an integral part of her family's community life in downtown Orlando. She has happy memories of coffee and donuts with the children in the atrium at St. James and relates how their three children's Catholic faith foundation began at St. James School. She says the Altar Server Ministry at St. James Cathedral had a great impact on their lives. Her son and daughter, Kevin and Kelly Wilkes, are now leading the altar server ministry and her younger daughter Katie is an altar server. Jean says, "As a downtown resident the church and school have been very accessible to our family. Because we have chosen to make St. James church and school an integral part of our lives we have been blessed with wonderful friendships, strong relationships with our priests, great families that have become our friends, opportunities to share in ministries in the church that have allowed us to grow in our faith and the people we have become."




Robert Serros, St. James Parishioner

Interview with Orlando native Bob Serros at the "Sneak Preview" for the restored Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 13th, 2010.

Mr. Serros was baptized in the original wooden church and recalls, "the murals in the chapel which were part of the original wooden church were part of the church in which I was baptized... To see these beautiful murals restored and now back in the cathedral" is a special memory for him. Mr. Serros and his two older brothers all attended St. James School. Mr. Serros remembers the school and making his First Communion and Confirmation in the 1930's. The sacraments were memorable events for him. Father Bishop was here in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Father Farley, later Monsignor Farley, selected Mr. Serros as one of the first church lectors. In those days only men were lectors. Mr. Serros also served as a Eucharistic Minister for many years and as a Special Minister bringing Holy Communion to the sick and homebound. He says, "My church experience has been absolutely critically important to my spiritual life." Mr. Serros remembers the priests through the years, Father Bishop, Father Page and Monsignor Farley. He also remembers when Orlando was much smaller, "a safe town, we didn't lock our doors... definitely a small city feel." When asked what he treasures about Orlando he says, "I treasure riding my bike around Orlando... and early memories simply playing in the neighborhood. The very simple things in life that young boys do with their friends."

 

 




Cathy Steiger, St. James Parishioner

Interview with Catherine Buning Steiger at the "Sneak Preview" for Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 13th, 2010.

Catherine Buning was born in Orlando in 1957, the sixth child in a family of eight children. The Buning family lived in a large home on Lake Eola at the corner of Robinson Street and Rosalind Avenue. Their house was built in the 1920's and was one of the six larger family homes on Lake Eola. Catherine recalls the lake as her backyard and has fond memories of looking out her bedroom window at night seeing the fountain change color and knowing which color was coming next. She would climb the oak trees around the lake for fun and feed the injured birds cared for by "The Bird Lady" at Grace Motel. The Buning family walked together the two blocks up Robinson Street to attend St. James Church and participated in the annual Easter Parade at Lake Eola. Cathy remembers having a new hat, purse, gloves and walking across the stage at Lake Eola for the judging. One year the Buning family won the best dressed family award and got their picture in the paper. Catherine Buning met her husband here in Orlando and they have raised four children at St. James: Matthew, Steven, Joan and Sarah.

She says, "St. James is a part of my identity and it is a part of their lives, too. The comfort of knowing a lot of the history, and of the people who have gone before me and helped build this parish.... There is a lot of warmth and comfort in knowing the community and being a part of it." As Orlando continues to grow as a city and a community, Mrs. Steiger thinks "the Cathedral will become even more of a centerplace for people to not only worship but for the arts....Things that would bring more of a spirituality to our community and be there to help answer some of the needs of a growing community as well."




James R. Smyth, St. James Cathedral Parishioner

Interview with Orlando native James R. Smyth at the "Sneak Preview" for the restored Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 13th, 2010.

Mr. Smyth has been a member of St. James for 77 years and remembers going to church in the old wooden church. There was no air conditioning and he says people fainted a lot because it was very hot. Father John Bishop was the pastor who baptized him, celebrated his First Communion, performed the wedding ceremony for his brothers and sisters, and graduated them from high school. Mr Symth started in St. James kindergarten in 1938 and continued through high school. He says back then "everybody knew everybody", it was a very close knit group as there were few Catholics in the area, less than 5 % of the population. Mr. Smyth adds, "My whole life I've been pretty close to it [St. James] right along."

He has the perspective of history which he shares in this interview. He recalls, "Back in the days of segregation the last pew in St. James had a sign 'Reserved for Colored'. Now they weren't discriminating - it was to say that they were welcome to come in because without that they wouldn't dare have come into the church." When asked about the future of St. James, Mr. Smyth sees the church growing as a vibrant community and says, "It's been central to my life the whole time and still is."




Leona Law, St. James Parishioner

Interview with longtime Orlando resident Leona Law at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, December 7th 2010.

Ms. Law's father, Orie Buzzelli, came to Orlando in 1925. After working successfully as a tailor for two years he invited his family to Orlando to live. Leona Buzzelli Law recalls coming to Orlando from Ellwood City, Pennsylvania by train because in those days not many people had cars. One of her earliest memories of the area was when she was in the third grade and Father Fox from St. James came to their house. He told her parents a new school had been built and he wanted the children to go to St. James School as pupils. Her father said he didn't think he could afford books and tuition for five kids. Fr. Fox said, "That's okay. We can fix that, since you're a tailor you can make all the clothes." Ms. Law says her father was a wonderful tailor. He got his training in Rome and made everything by hand. He worked at Ferran's Fine Tailoring on Orange Avenue right near the church in downtown Orlando. Ms. Law and her siblings, Flora Buzzelli, Reynold Buzzelli, Yolanda Buzzelli, and Gina Buzzelli all attended St. James School. (See photo: St. James School, Class of 1932.)

In the early days of the school they didn't have recreation equipment and just sat down at lunch. Father Bishop stopped by one day and saw them just siiting. He went off and got them so balls and a net so they could play volleyball. Leona says, "That was really great!" She also shares how Father Bishop helped a lot of people during the Depression. "He was a blessing to have around."

Ms. Law is very proud of the fact that she graduated from St. James School. She didn't have to go to finishing school. Instead she took a test and got a job with the Treasury Department in Washington, DC. She later returned to Orlando where she worked as a supervisor at McCoy Air Base and at the new Naval Base.

Ms. Law met her husband in Orlando and they were married 60 years. They got married in the old wooden St. James Church on December 28th, 1946.  She remembers Frank Cilento sang at their wedding as he did at many St. James affairs. She says, "He had a beautiful voice."

She recalls they wanted to be married in the old church and made it just before they started building the new one. The old church was made of wood and had wooden shingles. In this interview she tells the humorous story of the time Fr. Fox was "preaching a sermon and a woodpecker got onto the shingles and was pecking so loud that they couldn't hear the priest. He had to stop until the woodpecker finished."

Listen to this firsthand account of Orlando history.




Betty Wheeler, St. James Cathedral Parishioner

Interview with Orlando native  Betty Wheeler at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando March 18th, 2011.  

Elizabeth Cangelose was born just down the street from St.  James at Orlando General Hospital on Orange Avenue. It was wartime and her mother, Corrie Rhodes Cangelose,  was living in College Park with Betty's grandparents, Samuel and Hattie Rhodes,  while her father,  Joseph J. Cangelose, served in WWII. 

Betty Wheeler's family has a history of military service. Her  great-great-great-great grandfather, John Chapman (1746-1803), fought in the Revolutionary War and is on Georgia's Roster of the Revolution as having served in the Battalion of Minute Men. He was awarded 300 acres in Wilkes County by the Georgia Legislature.  Her grandmother's father, William Collier Barksdale (1834-1901)  of  Warren County,  fought for the south in the Civil War with Company D ("McDuffie Rifles"),  5th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  Her grandfather's father, William Chapman "Billie" Rhodes (1844-1928), also fought in that war.   Her grandfather's uncle, William C. Chapman (1833-1863),  fought at Gettysburg with the Third Regiment Georgia Volunteers and died at the battle at Manassas Gap in late July 1863.

When her father returned to Orlando  after WWII  the Cangelose  family moved to Colonialtown off Bumby. Betty remembers they still  made regular visits to her grandparents at 3 East Winter Park Avenue in College Park. Betty attended Fern Creek Elementary School and recalls the Colonial area when it was a neighborhood  pasture for T.G. Lee Dairy before the days of I-4, Disney and Martin Marietta.

In this interview Elizabeth Cangelose Wheeler shares her happy memories of attending St. James with her father as a girl and going to the drugstore fountain downtown after Mass for breakfast. She  describes  an active and thriving downtown with nice department stores for shopping such as Ivey's, Dickson & Ives, Gibbs-Louis, Sears and JC Penny's.

Elizabeth Wheeler moved back to Orlando as an adult after law school in the 1980's and returned to St. James Cathedral. Her oldest daughter Karen was confirmed at St. James and  in  2003 Karen Roberts  was married at St. James.

An appellate attorney by profession, Betty Wheeler  also serves her community as a Lector, Eucharistic Minister, and is one of the current Directors of Outreach Love.  She  says, "Meeting with children from underprivilged areas with  Outreach Love, is a very important part of my life."

Outreach Love is  a faith based  tutoring organization founded by Beverly Gawlik of St. James Cathedral dedicated to helping  underprivileged children  in the downtown Orlando area.

Ms. Wheeler reflects on how as you get older you realize what is important in life.  She shares how St. James has become more meaningful to her as she has become more involved in the ministries. She says, "I feel  so very grateful and fortunate to be a part of St. James, a caring, friendly, loving community."




Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Saint James Cathedral Pastoral Ministry

From Germany to America, from Arlington to Altamonte, the educational heritage of the Sisters of Notre Dame enriches the lives of individuals throughout the world.

In this 13 minute excerpt from an oral history interview on March 18th, 2011 at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Sisters of Notre Dame nun, traces the history of the Sisters of Notre Dame from their religious persecution in Germany in 1875 to their welcome in the United States as educators of German immigrants.

She details the educational foundations they contributed to our country as teachers, principals, educational leaders and founders of organizations such as Notre Dame College as well as their origins in Florida.

In the 1970's teachers were needed in Florida and pastors heard from bishop friends, "If you want good teachers get the Sisters of Notre Dame." The first places in Florida that the Sisters of Notre Dame began to teach were Our Lady of Lourdes in Dunedin, Saint Mary Magdalene in Altamonte Springs and St. Joseph's in Winter Haven. Listen to this fascinating account of history and culture from Sister of Notre Dame nun, Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Pastoral Minister at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.




Easter Memories

In this excerpt from an oral history interview March 18th, 2011 Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Sisters of Notre Dame nun and Director of Pastoral Ministry at Saint James Cathedral in Orlando, shares her childhood memories of Easter. 




Sister Mary Katherine Palisin - Coming to Florida

Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Sisters of Notre Dame nun, shares how she came to Florida to serve in the field of education. She details the communities in Florida where she taught and the transition she made  to become Pastoral Minister at St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando in this excerpt    from an oral history interview on March 18th, 2011.




Sister Mary Katherine Palisin - Life of a Minister

Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Director of Pastoral Ministry at St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, shares how serving our community has affected her life in this excerpt (12:59) from an oral history interview on March 18, 2011.




Sister Mary Katherine Palisin - The Future of St. James Cathedral

Director of Pastoral Ministry for St. James Cathedral, Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Sisters of Notre Dame nun, reflects on the future of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando in this excerpt   from an oral history interview on March 18th, 2011.




Marie Adams, Saint James Cathedral

Marie Adams recalls the days when attending Mass on Sunday meant a treacherous drive from Winter Garden to downtown Orlando before the days of I-4 and expressways, when the only Catholic church in the area was Saint James Church. Today it is known as St. James Catholic Cathedral still on the same corner in downtown Orlando. As Marie Adams notes in this oral history interview, March 30 2011, the church has changed through the years and yet with the recent renovation of St. James she sees a restoration of its architectural integrity. For Marie, "one of the joys of living in Central Florida is her association with St. James Cathedral and the beautiful perpetuation of her Catholic faith."




Tom Wilkes, St. James Cathedral Parishioner

Tom Wilkes grew up in College Park when oranges groves were plentiful and Disney was a Sentinel Star article about a mystery buyer of property.
After college he and his wife, Jean Wilkes, settled in Orlando and joined St. James Cathedral in 1978 where they both became active in parish life.

Wilkes highlights St. James Cathedral as a leader in the development of downtown Orlando in this two part oral history interview.

Part I    (21:51)    Downtown Development  BELOW                          

Part II   (9:44)      St. James Cathedral Celebrates 125 Years

The generosity of the parishioners was key to the community development of the 1970s and the Cathedral restoration completed in November 2011.

 "Parish Council President Tom Wilkes spearheaded the development of stewardship -the tithing concept—by initiating in 1982 the practice of lay people speaking from the pulpit on Stewardship Sunday," as Ed Hayes documents in  The Good News of St. James Cathedral: A Short History of the first 100 Years of a Catholic Parish.  This successful practice became a St. James tradition which continues to this day.

Tom Wilkes is currently a partner in the downtown law firm Gray Robinson, the General Counsel to the Orange County Property Appraiser and the Orange County Library District.  He served as Orange County Attorney, for Mayors Linda Chapin, Mel Martinez, and Richard Crotty, and serves in leadership roles on numerous civic committees.

 




Tom Wilkes, St. James Cathedral Parishioner

In this March 26th 2011 oral history interview at St. James Cathedral parishioner Tom Wilkes traces the history of the development of the altar server program at St. James Cathedral from the early 1980's when you had a dozen servers in the ministry to the investiture of new altar servers this year with over a hundred servers in the program. Mr. Wilkes recalls the program leaders through the years and the contributions they made. He begins with local entrepreneur Tom Riggs who led the program in the early 1980's and gave the young people discipline and training. Richard Niland provided leadership from the mid 1980's to the early 1990's and insisted on reverence. Then Debbie Ferrone led the way for the Investiture Service to be part of the Mass at Saint James Cathedral as it was this May 15th 2011. Kevin and Kelly Wilkes, Tom and Jean's son and daughter, now lead the ministry. Their younger daughter Kelly who has served as an altar server since the fourth grade was selected by her peers to lead as Knight Commander this year. 

Tom notes that the youth involved in the ministry are all high achievers, leaders in the community with special accomplishments in academics, athletics, club work, and community organizations. His wife Jean Wilkes sees the altar servers as the Christian leaders of the future. Tom says, "I don't think it is an overstatement to say that the altar server program at St. James may be the best in the United States, it may even be the best in the world." When the magisterium was here meeting in Orlando, one of the bishops from Rome told St. James Rector Fr. John McCormick, "That not even in the holy city of Rome are there altar servers that show the reverence and discipline and perfection that St. James altar servers show." Tom says, "This is an example of the kinds of things at St. James that are so important to our families, the school, the altar server program, so many programs here at St. James are such an integral part of family life and such an integral part of the downtown, of the city of Orlando




Tom Wilkes, St. James Cathedral Parishioner

Tom Wilkes grew up in College Park when oranges groves were plentiful and Disney was a Sentinel Star article about a mystery buyer of property.
After college he and his wife, Jean Wilkes, settled in Orlando and joined St. James Cathedral in 1978 where they both became active in parish life.

Wilkes highlights St. James Cathedral as a leader in the development of downtown Orlando in this two part oral history interview.

Part I   (21:51)   Downtown Development

Part II  (9:44)     St. James Cathedral Celebrates 125 Years   BELOW

The generosity of the parishioners was key to the community development of the 1970s and the Cathedral restoration completed in November 2011.

 "Parish Council President Tom Wilkes spearheaded the development of stewardship -the tithing concept—by initiating in 1982 the practice of lay people speaking from the pulpit on Stewardship Sunday," as Ed Hayes documents in The Good News of St. James Cathedral: A Short History of the first 100 Years of a Catholic Parish.  This successful practice became a St. James tradition which continues to this day.

Tom Wilkes is currently a partner in the downtown law firm Gray Robinson, the General Counsel to the Orange County Property Appraiser and the Orange County Library District.  He served as Orange County Attorney, for Mayors Linda Chapin, Mel Martinez, and Richard Crotty, and serves in leadership roles on numerous civic committees.




Alice Buning, St. James Cathedral

Alice Bunning grew up in the last family home on Lake Eola at the corner of Robinson Street and Rosalind Avenue. Her father, Mr. Bill Buning, had his insurance office downstairs, and her grandfather had his insurance office downtown. Alice grew up with Orlando's landmarks: walking to the Post Office everyday, the library, visting her granddad, and playing around Lake Eola. 

In this excerpt from an oral history interview on April 21st, 2011 she shares her happy memories of neighbors, Grace Bowen, who ran Grace Terrace Apartments and Motel Rooms at 240 E. Robinson St., and the Zorian family, also on Lake Eola, at 212 E. Robinson St.

She recalls Grace Bowen's concern for feeding the ducks at Lake Eola and her well known Christmas decorations on the wide stairway of Grace Terrace.

Alice Bunning and her seven siblings were well known to the officer who walked the lake. He knew the Buning children climbing in the trees at Lake Eola, their backyard playground. Alice remembers watching the fountain being built, Cherry Plaza, and "the biggest thing was watching them build the pool at Cherry Plaza. A lot of good times around Lake Eola."




Alice and Joan Buning, St. James Cathedral

President Lyndon B. Johnson, the first president ever to sleep in Orlando, stayed at the Cherry Plaza just around the corner from the Buning's family home on Lake Eola during his 1964 campaign visit. Alice Buning remembers competing with her brother, Rick Buning, to see who could shake President Johnson's hand the most. Alice confirms for the record that she knows she shook President Johnson's hand four times before the President made his way to Colonial Drive for his 9:30 am campaign address. Alice's mother, Joan Buning, also shares her fond memories of the Cherry Plaza Hotel and significant downtown landmarks in this excerpt from an oral history interview with the Bunings on April 21st, 2011.




Mrs. Joan Buning, St. James Cathedral

Joan Buning of St. James Cathedral expresses her gratitude for life in the United States in this excerpt from an oral history interview April 21st, 2011.

Mr. and Mrs. Bill Buning lived in the last family home on Lake Eola at the corner of Robinson St. and Rosalind Ave. where they raised 8 children, 5 girls and 3 boys. The Buning family walked to church at St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando and all eight children graduated from St. James School. Mrs. Buning recalls, "St. James was a major part of our lives."

In this audio excerpt she remembers her three sons service to our country in Vietnam, Desert Storm, at West Point and her husband's service during WWII. Her husband, Bill Buning, was awarded a Purple Heart. Mrs. Buning says, "When I think of some of the situations in other countries it just makes me even more grateful to be a U.S. citizen and to be a part of the great United States."




Sister Mary Katherine Palisin - Love of Country

Sister Mary Katherine Palisin, Sisters of Notre Dame nun, remembers how her parents had a "living love for this country," the United States of America, which they passed on to her and her siblings. In this excerpt from an oral history interview at St. James Cathedral on March 18th, 2011 she describes how their love for our country along with her experiences teaching in Washington, DC and diverse areas of the United States brought her to treasure America. As a teacher these are values she has tried to hand on to the children in her work in Catholic education. "We pray and we pledge.... We honor our God and we honor our country. All the ideals it stands for and all that we try to strive to do in our lives to make it the country we were meant to be."




Fr. John McCormick, Rector of St. James Cathedral

Oral history interview with Fr. John McCormick, Rector of St. James Cathedral, at Panera Bread on Eola Drive July 12, 2011. Fr. McCormick obtained his Licenciate in Philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1968. The Dublin born priest was incardinated to the Diocese of Orlando in 1983 and has spent a  lifetime serving in the Orlando community.
 
Part I - Life in Ireland, Education, Orlando Memories   (20:22)  Listen below.

Part II - Catholic Traditions, St. James Cathedral, Blessings of Life in Orlando   (21:13)  Listen
 




Fr. John McCormick, Rector of St. James Cathedral

Oral history interview with Fr. John McCormick, Rector of St. James Cathedral, at Panera Bread on Eola Drive July 12, 2011. Fr. McCormick obtained his Licenciate in Philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1968. The Dublin born priest was incardinated to the Diocese of Orlando in 1983 and has spent a  lifetime serving in the Orlando community.
 
Part I - Life in Ireland, Education, Orlando Memories   (20:22)  Listen

Part II - Catholic Traditions, St. James Cathedral, Blessings of Life in Orlando   (21:14)  Listen below.




Hamburgers in Hog's Heaven

Reflections on how amazing it is to live in the United States from Dublin born Father John McCormick, Rector of Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando. In this excerpt  from an oral history interview at Panera Bread on Eola Dr., July 12th, 2011, 28 years to the day of Fr. John's first arrival at St. James and 10 years after his return on September 11th, 2001, Fr. John states, "There is absolutely no question that God has blessed this country in ways that no other country has been blessed." He recalls eating hamburgers in Hog's Heaven when his Dirty Harry hero Clint Eastwood was Mayor of Carmel, and seeing the varied beauty of the great American landscape on vacation with friends. Regarding Orlando he says, "There's lots of life in Orlando right now to look forward to and to participate in. You just have to look in the mirror once and a while and realize how blessed we are."




St. James Cathedral Celebrates 125 Years

Saint James Catholic Cathedral celebrates 125 years in downtown Orlando with a reunion this weekend of priests, religious and parishioners.

The church continues its service to the community with a St. Vincent De Paul stewardship drive for the needy in our area and a celebration of community life with Sunday breakfast hosted by the Knights of Columbus service organization.

In this excerpt from an oral history interview on March 26th, 2011, St. James parishioner Tom Wilkes shares his perspective on the future of St. James Cathedral and the rejuvenation of downtown Orlando.

 




St. James Cathedral Community Life Center

In 1978 downtown Orlando consisted of empty storefronts and an economic recession darkened the nation. It was at this critical point in the history of Orlando that Father David Page of St. James Cathedral envisioned expanding the church at the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street. Fr. Page, a community builder, wanted to create a gathering place for community life and social functions. He wanted people to feel connnected to their community parish. Tom Wilkes, a parishioner of St. James Cathedral, arrived at St. James just weeks before the church rectory was demolished to make room for the Community Life Center. He details the church's contribution to the city beautiful in this excerpt from an oral history interview on March 26, 2011.




A Blessing for Downtown and Saint James Cathedral

The atrium of Saint James Cathedral is alive with children and families enjoying coffee and donuts Sunday mornings. The investment parishioners made in the late 1970's to build a center for community gathering envisioned by Father David Page, Pastor of Saint James Cathedral from 1972 to 1986 continues to offer opportunities for community connections and fellowship.

Attorney Tom Wilkes, details how the City Of Orlando, in many ways led by Saint James Cathedral, transitioned from an economic downturn to a renaissance of new construction and new activity in this oral history interview at Saint James Cathedral, March 26, 2001.




Saint James Cathedral School

Faced with dwindling financial resources as downtown Orlando's population shifted from families to senior citizens on fixed income, Saint James School Principal Blanka Roberts literally turned off the lights in the school hallways to save money. Roberts proved to be an outstanding leader through the lowest point in the school's history to date. She tenaciously embraced the American virtues of thrift and ingenuity to do all she could to keep St. James School open for future generations.

Like Father David Page, St. James Cathedral Pastor (1972-1986), who led St. James through a bleak period in Orlando's history, when businesses closed and breadlines grew downtown, Blanka Roberts prudently believed the economic situation at the school to be temporary. She and Father Page worked together to find ways to keep St. James School open through the dismal economic times.

In this excerpt from an oral history interview on March 26, 2011, St. James parishioner Tom Wilkes discusses the teamwork, inspiration and leadership which brought St. James School forward to a period of growth and restoration as St. James became the school where everyone wanted their child.




The Wedding

When Frank Sevick came to Orlando the only tall building downtown was the bank on Robinson Street across from Saint James Cathedral. Mary Jane Sevick remembers Orlando ending at Colonial Plaza on the east and Montgomery Ward on the west. Mary Jane Bowman came to Orlando from Atlanta with her family in 1964. Frank Sevick came to Orlando in 1978 as Director of Religious Education for St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Sister Marie Gibbons introduced Frank and Mary Jane, and then Frank waited a year to call. Six months after their first date he proposed to Mary Jane in the old chapel at the Cathedral on Orange Ave.

A wedding day was prepared and Frank went to get his blood test for the marriage certificate, never to return. Mary Jane met him at the hospital where he was to undergo triple bypass surgery. Fr. Page offered to marry them in the hospital that night. Frank said, "No, I'm going to be fine. We are going to be married in the church." And so, as Frank and Mary Jane share in this excerpt from an oral history interview, they were married at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando on September 25th, 1982. The guest list of 50 turned into 670 as news made the church bulletin that Frank was well and there would be a church wedding after all!

The Sevicks wedding reception was held in the new Community Life Center at St. James Cathedral. The Community Life Center was envisioned by Father David Page as a way of bringing community life to downtown Orlando during the dismal economic recession of the late 1970's. Frank Sevick served as project manager and supervisor of construction for the project. Completed within a year, the Cathedral Center as it was later named, won the Annual Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects and a Beautification Award from the City of Orlando.

The Sevicks share some of the community celebrations, socials, breakfasts, and St. Patrick's Day parties, which have brought such life to St. James parish and downtown Orlando for so many years in this oral history interview at St. James Cathedral on August 15th, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 




The Irish Tinkers

The Irish Tinkers, a community of Irish gypsies, came through Orlando in the 1980s.

Frank Sevick, Director of Religious Education at St. James Cathedral describes the nomadic lifestyle of these simple people and their welcome into the community.

Listen to this firsthand account of Orando history in  this excerpt (below) from an oral history interview at St. James Cathedral on August 15, 2011. 




Christmas Cakes, Plum Pudding, and Chocolate for Breakfast

Dublin born Father John McCormick, Rector of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, shares his childhood memories of Christmas in this excerpt from an oral history interview at Panera Bread on Eola Drive, July 12th, 2011. He says, "The biggest feast day in Ireland by far, Christmas Day."




Father John McCormick, Saint James Cathedral

Past, present and future converge in this excerpt  from an oral history interview with Father John McCormick, Rector of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

During the 8am morning bustle at Panera Bread on Eola Drive on July 12th 2011, Fr. John shares perspectives on communication technology, education, and the growth of Orlando.

He says, "The future of Saint James Cathedral as a church downtown is intrinsically linked to how the life in the City of Orlando goes...The challenge is to know that all of this is happening around you in this wonderful city of ours...We all touch each other. We bump into each other and we effect each other's lives."




Fran Abeel, St. James Cathedral School

Fran Abeel worked at St. James School on Ridgewood Avenue in downtown Orlando  from 1948 to 1975. In this 7  minute  excerpt from an oral history interview at Saint James Cathedral on September 3rd, 2011 she details the improvements and  expansion  of  the school  as the needs of the Orlando community have changed through the years. 




Fran Abeel, Saint James Cathedral

Fran Abeel came to Orlando in 1947, because her husband, a disabled veteran, needed to live in a warm climate. Housing was scarce so for their first 2-3 years in Orlando, the Abeels lived in the Veterans Trailer Park. In this excerpt from an oral history interview on September 3rd, 2011, Fran shares how they came to meet other veterans, many fine fellows, and become members of the Disabled American Veterans organization. Mr. and Mrs. Abeel later became community leaders in the local Disabled American Veterans for many years.




First Fridays with Hot Chocolate & Donuts

For many who grew up in Orlando, the memory of walking down Robinson Street for First Friday Mass at St. James Cathedral is a special school memory. After church the kids had hot chocolate and donuts for breakfast in the St. James School cafeteria served by cafeteria manager, Fran Abeel. From spaghetti dinners to fall festivals and dinner with the bishop, Mrs. Abeel always had a crowd in the school cafeteria on Ridgewood St.

In this excerpt from an oral history interview on Sept. 3, 2011, Fran shares her happy memories of community life and the surprise call she received from the St. James School graduates of 1964 asking her to serve them their hot chocolate and donuts for their reunion!




Fran Abeel, Saint James Cathedral

Fran Abeel shares her happy memories of boating on the St. Johns River, the community of St. James Cathedral and the wonderful life her family has here in Orlando. She recalls her boys learning to ski on the lake at the Sportmen's Club, the group picnics, and trips with friends taking their boat down to Sanford, putting it on the St. Johns River and going for the weekend to Jacksonville or down to Miami. From the beginning, St. James Cathedral was their home, as she shares in this excerpt from an oral history interview at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando on September 3, 2011.




General Patton's Barber

WWII Veteran Cosmo Monell started barbering at age 14. He became so good that when he was drafted for service in WWII he took on the assignment of cutting all the GI's, all the soldiers hair. General Patton learned of Cosmo's expertise and requested him to come over and cut his hair. Patton was so pleased with the results he had Cosmo Monell travel with him as his personal barber all over Europe as brother and fellow WWII Veteran Michael Monell shares in this excerpt from an oral history interview on November 9th, 2011. 

Michael says, "Patton was a mean guy, but everybody loved him. He was a great general, very great generals at that time." 

When Cosmo Monell left the military he chose to settle in Kissimmee, FL where he opened a barber shop on Main Street and became known throughout Kissimmee as "Tony the Barber".

 




"Tony the Barber"

WWII Veteran Michael Monell shares how his brother, Cosmo,  started his career as a barber at age 14, entered the service in WWII, and came to settle in Kissimmee with a barber shop on Main Street.

Michael says, "Everyone in Kissimmee knew my brother. They called him 'Tony the Barber'." He was very involved with the Knights of Columbus and very active in church life in the Kissimmee  community.  

Listen to  this firsthand account of history from Orlando resident, Michael Monell, of Saint James Cathedral, November 9th, 2011.

 

 




WWII Veteran Domineck Monell

Domineck Monell volunteered for service in WWII and entered the Air Force. He  served  as  a mechanic working on P-51's. His military  service included  a visit to Fort Myers where he fell in love with Florida. He went home to  Fairmont, VA got his wife and they settled in Jacksonville, FL where Domineck worked at the Naval Air Station for 30 years as a mechanic and shop manager.  

Domineck  Monell is one of the eight Monell brothers  from Fairmont, VA  ready to serve their country in WWII. Six of the Monell brothers were drafted and two received their notice. One brother, Tony, the first to ship out in the Invasion of 1944 was killed in battle. Frank Monell,  rescued 56 men at the Battle of the Bulge, was shot three times, and survived POW camp. He lives now in a VA nursing home.

Orlando resident and WWII Veteran  Michael Monell says, "My family was very proud of what we did."  

Hear this excerpt from Michael Monell's oral history interview at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, November 9, 2011.




Tom Wilkes, Saint James Cathedral

Orlando attorney Tom Wilkes gives thanks for the blessings of our country in this excerpt from an oral history interview on March 26th, 2011 at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. "I dearly love the freedom we have in this country. The fact that God has blessed us with a political system and a political culture that says that the people in this country are created by him and are entitled, endowed with inalienable rights as we say in our Declaration of Independence..."




The Benedetti's, St. James Cathedral

Pearl Harbor Volunteer Vincent Benedetti recalls coming to Orlando from Banana River Naval Air Station as a sailor on liberty during WWII. 10,000 soldiers were in Orlando at the time. Fourth generation Floridian Arline Conoley Benedetti, shares how she met her future husband Vincent Benedetti at a dance here in Orlando in this excerpt from an oral history interview with Mr. and Mrs. Benedetti at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, September 4, 2011.




Mike Walsh, Saint James Cathedral

Mike Walsh, Saint James Cathedral 




Mike Walsh, Saint James Cathedral



Mike Walsh, Saint James Cathedral



Mike Walsh, Saint James Cathedral



Mike Walsh, Saint James Cathedral



Mike Walsh, Saint James Cathedral



Fr. John McCormick, Saint James Cathedral

At 7 AM on December 24, 1975, Father John McCormick, Rector of Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando, was ordained to the priesthood in Rome. After a lifetime of service to community, both here and abroad, Fr. John recalls the message of the Cardinal that early morning: "Always remember that you need to be Apostles of Joy. There's enough gloom and doom...Bring people hope. Give them something. Let them know they're loved. Let them know they have hope. Even in the midst of recessions... In the mosaic of life that you and I are a part of it and we happen to be living that mosaic here in Central Florida, in this beautiful city. That's the history and that's the way, what God has called us to do."

Excerpt from an oral history interview at Panera's on Eola Dr. July 12, 2011.




WWII Veteran Michael Monell

When Michael Monell and his wife came to Orlando in 1955, they bought their first house out in the country, what is today known as Fashion Square Mall area. Mike recalls asking his wife, "Don't you think it is too far from Orlando? Look how far we'd be from downtown."

In this excerpt from an oral history interview at Saint James Cathedral on November 9th, 2011, WWII Veteran Michael Monell shares how his parents came to this country, worked in the coal mines of West Virginia, raised 10 children through the Great Depression, eight of whom would go on to prepare for military service in WWII.

Michael followed his dream to come to Florida where two of his brothers were living in Kissimmee and Jacksonville.

He entered the wholesale business and did very well working with all the hotels and restaurants in the area.

From the day his father arrived in this country at age 21 looking for work, the Monell family has cherished the values of hard work and service to God and country.

WWII Veteran Michael Monell still serves his community as an usher at St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando and has served for years as Commander of the local American Veterans post leading groups to volunteer at VA clinics in our area.

 

 

 

 




WWII Veteran Michael A. Monell

Michael Monell was drafted in 1943 and sent to St. Petersburg, FL to experience "The Jungle" in preparation for service in the South Pacific.

As it turns out, his WWII  tour of duty was in Europe where he served for  three and a half  years.

Michael is one of the eight Monell  brothers  from  Fairmont, VA  all ready to serve their country during World War II.

As Michael Monell shares his brother, Tony, was in the first group out for the Invasion of 1944 and was killed in battle at St. Loe, France.

His brother, Frank, served in the Battle of the Bulge and saved 56 men despite being shot three times. He was awarded three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star. He weighed 97 lbs. when the Russians rescued him from the POW camp and was still bleeding, but made it home to the United States where he lives now in a VA nursing home.

Brother Cosmo, became so well known in the service for cutting the GI's hair that General Patton recruited him as his personal barber. After the war he would become famous in our area as "Tony the Barber" with a shop on Main Street in Kissimmee.

Domineck, joined the Air Force and worked on P-51s during the war. He then settled in Jacksonville where he worked at the Naval Air Station for 30 years.

After his military service, Mike dreamed of one day returning to Florida.

He says, "I loved Florida so much. It was just different, so clean."

Eights years later in 1955 Mr. Monell and his family moved to Florida as he shares in this excerpt from an oral history interview at St. James Cathedral, November 9th, 2011.

 




Michael R. Walsh, St. James Cathedral Parishioner

September 11th, 2011 oral history interview with Orlando attorney Michael R. Walsh at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Hear highlights from his interview in this 6 minute excerpt.
 

Mr. Walsh came to Orlando in May 1964 and remembers how beautiful it  was to go to Mass in the old church. He says, "At St. James you felt really as if you were home to start with..... St. James, of course, it is an integral part of the downtown community of Orlando and as the Cathedral, it has great influential ties to the Central Florida area in many, many different respects.... It was one  of the  first churches in the area, if not the first, to go into feeding the homeless, Daily Bread."

"At daily Mass at 7 o'clock there's a group of people that come into your life that you would never really encounter unless you did something like that. And then there are other people as you branch out into activities at St. James that enrich your life in many respects by bringing people to God through what they do."
 

Mr. Walsh serves as a Eucharistic Minister to the Sick bringing Holy Communion to  those in  nursing homes and homebound residents. He has been active in Legal Aid in Orlando since 1965.
 

He is currently listed as Best Lawyers in America by Neifeh and Smith, Best Lawyers in the U.S. by Town & Country Magazine, Florida Super Lawyers - Top 100, and he  is a Life Fellow  of the Florida Bar Foundation.  




Oral History Interview with Sonar Physicist Vincent Benedetti

Sonar Physicist Vincent Benedetti worked at the naval research lab at the corner of Gatlin and Summerlin Avenue for 35 years. He was the first person in Orlando to own scuba equipment having received his training from the U.S. Navy Seals in Key West in the 1960s. As head of the Anechoic Tank Facility at the United States Naval Research Laboratory, the Bureau of Standards for all sonar, Mr. Benedetti's work involved simulating ocean conditions of pressure and temperature. He is the author of several papers including an experiment on what happens to a torpedo on board an aircraft at a certain temperature when it drops into the ocean assuming the airplane is flying from high altitude, cold temperature, and they drop into warm water. Hear Orlando resident Mr. Benedetti explain his sonar experiments in this excerpt from an oral history interview on September 4, 2011.

 




WWII Veteran Felix Monell

Known as the Bazooka Man by his platoon, Felix Monell spent days behind enemy lines stringing up wire for U.S. troop communications in Italy during WWII. He was awarded the silver star with the oak leaf cluster for his service to our country in the 361st Infantry Regiment, 91st Division.

Orlando resident and WWII veteran Michael Monell describes how his brother became an interpreter during WWII and later moved to Kissimmee, FL where he became an award winning bowler. Learn more about the extraodinary military service of the Monell brothers in this 9 minute 31 second excerpt from an oral history interview on February 10, 2012 at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

Michael Monell states, "Our parents were very proud of their sons that we were ready to lay down our lives in harm's way for the sake of freedom."

 




Sunday Memories at St. James Church in Orlando

The church was right downtown on Orange Avenue. Everything was right downtown...It had wonderful stained glass windows that have been saved all these many years and are still in our new cathedral that we have now. The original church was the only Catholic church in the area. As a matter of fact the Winter Park church (St. Margaret Mary) was kind of a mission of St. James originally. During wartime there were so many additional Catholics that came into town through the services that they had to put a little addition on the south side of the St. James Church. It was a frame building but it was very historic the way most of the churches were built at that time.

On Sunday we always got up and at that time you didn't eat breakfast before you went to church so we always went to one of the earlier Masses at the church. My husband (Bill Buning) sang in the choir. That was one of the reasons we went to a certain Mass. Then afterwards the choir members would all meet and we'd go across the street to a drugstore that had breakfast. That was kind of a fun thing because we got to meet other people there....

I remember the Pastor was Monsignor Bishop and he had been there a long time. He was very well loved. And he was very active in the community too. He made everybody feel at home. He had also served during the war as a chaplain but then came back afterwards...He was the Pastor there (St. James) until he passed away.    

Joan Buning shares her early memories of Orlando when she and her husband, Bill Buning, would walk to church from their first home on Ridgewood Avenue. The Bunings would later move to a large family home on Lake Eola where they raised eight children and Mr. Buning ran his very successful insurance business from the downstairs office.

Listen to a Sunday from history, in this excerpt  below  from an oral history interview on April 21st, 2011.
 




Arline Conoley Benedetti and the Art of Community

Picking strawberries in Plant City for charity comes natural to fourth generation Floridian Arline Conoley Benedetti. Her uncle, citrus grower E.B. Conoley, and now his son have been donating their oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit for the Citrus Bowl Parade for years. 

 

While her husband, Vincent Benedetti, might joke that Arline ate more strawberries than she picked, the ever popular Strawberry Socials at St. James Cathedral were great fundraisers for the church and school. The chance to make your own strawberry shortcake with fresh picked Plant City strawberries  delighted generations of parishioners. 

Artist Arline Conoley Benedetti, mother of six, has spent a lifetime contributing her time and talents to the Orlando community planning church socials, creating crafts to raise money for ministries, and decorating charity galas for church and school benefits. 

One of her fondest memories was when she was chosen to stage the gathering of 999 clergy at the Cherry Plaza just after the Orlando Diocese was created in 1968. 

Her fundraising for St. James Neighborhood Ministry, raising ten thousand dollars with ten super sales, helped many people in the Orlando area, and earned her a position on the board of Bishop Moore High School. But, as she humbly shares, "I wasn't that kind of fundraiser." 

Her connection to our community spans generations as noted by local history buffs. Her great grandmother was killed by an Indian at Fort Gatlin during the Seminole Indian War in 1838. Her maternal grandparents were "real pioneer types", the Hannigan Patrick's from the Orlo Vista area, who owned a lot of territory west of Orange Avenue. Her paternal grandparents were citrus growers in the Conway area. In addition to his work as a food inspector, her father, W.J. Conoley, was active in civic life and served on the Democratic Executive Committee of Orange County. 

From pancake breakfasts to school committees, Arline and her husband WWII veteran Vincent Benedetti, have enjoyed generously contributing to our community through activities at St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando as they share in this excerpt (8:46) from an oral history interview at St. James Cathedral on September 4, 2011. 

 

When asked what role has St. James Cathedral played in your life? Arline responds, "It's kept us honest."

 




Community Giving: A History of Sharing Time, Talent, and Treasure in Orlando

From a $90,000 a year thrift store for the poor to soup and sandwiches for the hungry, St. James Cathedral's history of community giving is dedicated to serving the needy in our area. As an Orlando organization tithing 10 % of their collection, St. James financially supports such worthwhile institutions as Apopka Family Learning Center, B.E.T.A. Center, Coalition for the Homeless, Covenant House of Central Florida, Fresh Start, Health Care Center of the Homeless, iDignity, JMJ Life Center, Morning Star School, Russell Home for Atypical Children and more. In this excerpt from an oral history interview at St. James Cathedral on August 15, 2011, Frank and Mary Jane Sevick highlight the origins and outreach of a few St. James community activities such as offering soup and sandwich to those hungry at lunchtime which grew into the Daily Bread and the development of the Christian Service Center. They recall St. James parishioners such as Kathy Hummel one of the founding members of B.E.T.A., Beverly Gawlick who started Outreach Love,  Dick Rupp who assisted with the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on Parramore, and Fr. David Page who worked diligently with the downtown community to establish the Christian Service Center. The legacy of community building continues as 2,789 people in Orlando were assisted by St. James through St. Vincent de Paul donations last year. Learn more about the history of community organizations in the Orlando area and the contributions made to the lives of our citizens in this interview.




Pearl Harbor Volunteer



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St. James Cathedral 1885-1985 Centennial Directory

Saint James Cathedral 1885-1985 centennial publication with pictorial directory of families.
"The Good News of St. James Cathedral: A Short History of the First 100 Years of a Catholic Parish" by Edward Hayes, who attended St. James and was a columnist for The Orlando Sentinel for many years is included in the directory.
Early church benefactors noted in the directory include Joseph Bumby, Mahlon Gore, A. M. Hyer, E. P. Hyer, J. Perey Keating, J. H. Livingston, M. R. Marks, J. B. Parramore, C.H. Spellman, Anna Churchill, Catherine Lansing, Nat Pointz, Maria Reilly, J.M. O"Connell, Charles Green, J. F. Lanaghan, Peter Mack, J. W. Keller, C.F. Howes, G. Kennedy, C. H. Shattuck, J. Campin, M. Massey, John G. Sinclair, E. R. Gunby, L. O. Garrett and brothers, N. H. Brown and C. A. Boone.
Use the index to locate people, organizations and locations. Note: the directory does not have page numbers. The index numbers refer to the pdf page numbers.
 
 
 


St. James Cathedral 2011 Graduating Knights of the Altar

St. James Catholic Cathedral May 2011 Revelations newsletter featuring the graduating Knights of the Altar who have distinguished themselves by years of service to their church and the Orlando community: Bobby Burnes, Sarah Delahunty, Jose DeSantiago, Cameron Karaus, Bradley Metzger, Mallory Necrason, Ben Porter, and Judy Scharf.


St. James Cathedral School Golden Anniversary Benefit Dinner Dance

Commemorative booklet for the St. James Cathedral School Golden Anniversary Benefit Dinner Dance, Saturday, December 2, 1978 at Rio Pinar Country Club. Includes:  An October 27th, 1978 letter from the Bishop of Orlando, Thomas J. Grady, to the Orlando community. Letter from Mayor Carl T. Langford to the school regarding the "tremendous number of outstanding citizens who have graduated from St. James School and who have contributed so much to the moral fiber of this area".  School and church history with names, dates, and chronology of events beginning with October 7, 1889 when the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived to begin teaching students at St. Joseph Academy. The school was located at the corner of Robinson Street and Main Street (now Magnolia Avenue) where the U.S. Post Office and Diocese of Orlando building are now. The present school building on Ridgewood Avenue opened in 1929.


St. James School Gala Event of the Year!

 

Commemorative Booklet for the St. James School Gala Event of the Year! Scholarship Dinner - Dance, Friday November 5, 1976 at the Carlton House Resort Hotel, 6515 International Drive. Includes letter from the Pastor of St. James Church, Father David Page, outlining the purpose of the event is to provide scholarships funds for students, an "investment in the youth" of our community. A history of St. James School, "St. James School: The Past" begins on page 8. Jack Hardin, General Manager of the Carlton House Resort Hotel gave all the facilities of the hotel for the event at no cost. Arline Benedetti did the banquet decorating. Scholarship donors and patrons are listed by name including many area businesses such as the George Stuart Foundation, Southern Fruit Distributors, Inc. Blue Bird Brand Citrus Products. Last page of the booklet gives a history of George Stuart, Inc. with a photo of George L. Stuart, Sr. September 4, 1905 - January 11, 1976. Photos of school staff and scholarship committee begins on page 10.     

 


St. James Cathedral School 75th Anniversary Gala

St. James Cathedral School 75th Anniversary Gala, October 18th 2003, in honor of the 75th birthday of St. James School on Ridgewood Avenue in downtown Orlando. Gala booklet includes chronological list of St. James Cathedral Pastors and St. James Cathedral School Prinicipals as well as an Honor Roll of Donors with charitable giving sponsorship.

 

St. James Cathedral Pastors

Rev. Felix Prosper Swenbergh   1885-1887

Rev. Joseph J. Creed  1888-1892

Rev. Michael Fox   1892-1933

Monsignor John Gregory Bishop  1933-1957

Monsignor Terence J. Farrelly  1957-1972

Rev. David P. Page  1972-1987

Rev. Joseph A. Nolin  1987-1992

Rev. Sean Heslin  1992-2001

Rev. John McCormick  2001-present

 

St. James Cathedral School Principals

 

Sister Theresa Joseph

Sister Ethelberger

Sister St. Anne

Sister Moira

Sister Anne Olivia

Sister June Mary

Mr. Robert DeSormier

Mrs. Blanca Roberts

Mrs. Mary DeVault

Mrs. Barbara Bozeman

Mrs. Geri Gendall

 

 

 

 


The St. James Legacy Newsletter

In this first issue of The St. James Legacy  newsletter, Summer 2003, vol. 1, No. 1, Alumnus Pat Conroy, bestselling author, recalls his school days at St. James Cathedral School on Ridgewood St. in downtown Orlando.

"My year at St. James was the happiest in my childhood... every time I visit Orlando, I return to that sacred spot where I first shot a basketball."

"A Century Of Growth At St. James Cathedral School"

Details the history and contributions of St. James in the Orlando area beginning with the founding of St. Joseph's Academy in 1889. St. James School changed its name to the Cathedral School of St. James in 1977 when St. James Church was renamed St. James Cathedral for the Diocese of Orlando.  St. James opened Orlando's first Catholic Montessori school in 1989. Some of the many community acts of giving are highlighted in the history such as the St. James Cathedral School Golf and Tennis Tournament to scholarship funds, the Junior Civilian Club 10 district awards for collecting for the needy in Orlando, and the students collecting school supplies for children in the Dominican Republic.


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