Schoenstatt Tampa Bay: A Journey of Transformation

Welcome to Schoenstatt Tampa Bay, a vibrant spiritual community that has navigated through loss, resilience, and renewal. Our journey is a testament to the transformative power of faith and unity.

From the Ashes, a Flame: 2019

The year 2019 started with a somber note for Tampa Bay Catholics. The closure of Transfiguration Parish, announced on July 15th, left a community adrift. Yet, amidst the ashes of loss, a spark of hope ignited. Father Carlos José Rojas, inspired by Schoenstatt spirituality, presented a daring proposal on August 6th: transforming the pain into purpose by building a “Home Shrine” movement. On October 21st, as Transfiguration doors closed, over 100 parishioners sealed their Covenant of Love with Mary, birthing Schoenstatt Tampa Bay.

Building on Faith: 2020-2021

The nascent movement took root in individual homes, each becoming a sanctuary for prayer and fellowship. Pilgrimages to the Miami Shrine in September 2019 and the “Capital of Grace” presentation in March 2020 fostered unity and commitment. In February 2020, the Pilgrim Mother, a cherished symbol of Marian presence, arrived, marking the launch of the “Campaign of the Pilgrim Virgin.”

Loss and Sacrifice: March 2020-February 2022

The global pandemic in March 2020 echoed the community’s earlier loss, forcing church closures. Yet, drawing strength from shared experience, they continued virtual meetings and spiritual growth. In July 2020, the tragic passing of young Andresito, affectionately known as the “Protomartyr,” became a beacon of faith. His family’s heartfelt letter during the December Covenant renewal deeply moved the community, leading to the burning of the Capital of Grace and planting a memorial tree, symbolizing transformation.

Blooming Hope: March 2020-July 2023

Father Carlos’ relocation to St. Cecilia Parish in March 2020 opened a new chapter. During this time a burning desire arose: enthroning the Blessed Mother in a dedicated space. This led to Eucharistic Vigils and the “Three Dynamics of Love” retreats, fostering unity and spiritual preparation.

Throne of Grace: August 2023-Present

On June 18th, 2022, the Pilgrim Mother images were crowned “Queen of the Shrine,” reflecting the community’s aspirations. Meanwhile, the construction of the Wayside Shrine in Santa Cecilia’s plaza progressed, with the image painted by artist Ilirjan Zenelaj arriving in July 2023. Pilgrimages and prayer walks paved the way for the Queen’s arrival on July 10th, marking a momentous occasion. The image was unveiled during the July 18th Covenant renewal, solidifying the Hermitage as a sacred space.

A Beacon of Hope: Looking Forward

As Schoenstatt Tampa Bay celebrates its 4th anniversary on October 18th, 2023, with Bishop Gregory Parkes’ blessing of the Hermitage, the journey continues. With a clear vision – the “Schoenstatt Shrine ‘The Transfiguration'” – they remain grounded in the Covenant of Love, Home Shrines, and the Capital of Grace. They express heartfelt gratitude to all who have contributed, especially Father Carlos José Rojas, for his guidance and unwavering faith.

Bishop Parkes Blessing the Schoenstatt Tampa Bay Wayside Shrine