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Tom Wilkes on Community, Stewardship & St. James Cathedral

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 on March 26, 2011.

Part I    (21:51)     Downtown Development

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.

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The Wilkes Family, St. James Cathedral

Photo of the Wilkes family from the St. James Centennial 1885-1985  directory celebrating 100 years of St. James Catholic Cathedral in downtown...

Stewardship at Saint James Cathedral

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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...

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."




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.




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..."




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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 Centennial Directory Index

Directory pages are not numbered. Find the correct starting point and number the pages in the directory to correspond with the index.


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