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Doral parishioners: Expect a miracle

After 12 years of stops and starts, construction begins on Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

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DORAL | A miracle is coming, and the date is set: Dec. 12, 2015.

That’s when parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Doral plan to dedicate their new church, chapel, and multipurpose building, going in less than 15 years from a community without a home to one with a completely built parish plant.

“It’s the first time in (archdiocesan) history that a church is built from A to Z, and in one year,” said a joyous Andrea Salani, a parishioner “since the beginning.”

Indeed, the usual pattern is for a parish to build a multipurpose building first, then turn it into a parish hall years later, when a permanent church is built. Later on, some add a chapel for daily worship and adoration.

Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino speaks before blessing the ground where the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be built. With him are Father Israel Mago, pastor, and Sister Elizabeth Worley, archdiocesan chancellor for administration.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino speaks before blessing the ground where the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be built. With him are Father Israel Mago, pastor, and Sister Elizabeth Worley, archdiocesan chancellor for administration.

That was the plan for Our Lady of Guadalupe, which began in 1999 as a mission of Blessed Trinity in Miami Springs and became a parish in 2001. But after a dozen years of stops and starts, including two groundbreakings and a lengthy search for a parcel of open land, the new plan is to have all three buildings completed in less than a year — just in time to celebrate the feast day of their patroness, also the patroness of the Americas.

“Ultimately you realize that this is really what Guadalupe wanted,” said Father Israel Mago, pastor, during the third — and final — groundbreaking ceremony, a low-key affair held Jan. 9 on a white-sand lot along N.W. 25th Street, just west of Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery and east of the Florida Turnpike.

The 13.5 acre site was donated to the parish by the cemetery, after founding pastor Msgr. Tomás Marín (now pastor of St. Timothy in Miami), could find no open plot of land in the fast-growing city of Doral. Once he had the land, he held a groundbreaking (in 2008), and began raising funds and making plans for a multi-purpose building.

Both his plans and Father Mago’s initial plans fell through, however, and to this day the parish’s 5,000 or so registered families celebrate Sunday Masses in the auditorium of Doral Academy High School.

“After so many tries, nothing happened,” said Father Mago, who became pastor in 2010. “We never made it before. But now it’s moving along and it’s a sign that this is God’s will and the Virgin’s will.”

The breakthrough came a couple of years ago, in the form of an anonymous donor — a devotee of Our Lady of Guadalupe — who offered to give $2 for every $1 that parishioners contributed to the building fund.

That’s when Father Mago and his community realized they could build the whole parish plant all at once for about $12 million — an amount they are about halfway toward collecting.

“There have been a lot of God-incidences throughout this project,” admitted David Prada, archdiocesan director of the Office of Building and Property. Among them: construction permits were pulled on the feast day of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, 2014.

Prada sees parallels in the story of San Juan Diego, who tried several times, unsuccessfully, to convince the local bishop that Mary had appeared to him and wanted a church built on that hill in Tepeyac. Only when the flowers fell from his tilma (cloak) — revealing her image on the cloth — did the bishop believe him and do as Mary asked.

That’s why the architect, Jose Murguido of Zyscovich Architects, brought a bunch of red roses to the groundbreaking.

“Until there were the roses, the unbelievers did not believe,” said Murguido, who credited the Holy Spirit as “my partner and the inspiration (for the design).”

“Sometimes you have beautiful buildings but you don’t have the community, you don’t have people,” said Dina Mitjans, a parishioner “since the first Mass.”

That’s not the case at Our Lady of Guadalupe, which has 5,000 registered families.

“The community has grown so much. We are a family,” Mitjans said. “There’s an extremely strong connection between the ministries. It’s a very strong community.”

Even Doral Mayor Luigi Boria joined in the rejoicing. “It’s about time that we see a Catholic church here in the city.”

Still, a lot of work remains to be done in a very short time.

“It’s already being a miracle,” Father Mago said. “At the end it’s going to be the biggest of all miracles when we are able to make the dedication on her day.”

“Please keep in your prayers this dream,” he added, “that this be a reality in God’s time, and that God’s time be the same as our time.”  

Anyone interested in helping Our Lady of Guadalupe’s parishioners make their dream come true is asked to call the church office, 305-593-6123.

Architect's rendering of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, with chapel and multipurpose building, which is slated to be dedicated on the feast day of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, 2015.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

Architect's rendering of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, with chapel and multipurpose building, which is slated to be dedicated on the feast day of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, 2015.


Comments from readers

Richard DeMaria - 02/06/2015 06:51 AM
Congratulations to all involved in this wonderful progress. I am surprised not to find Msgr. Tomás Marin featured in the photos. I know how much of the initial success should be attributed to him. The framed image of Our Lady in one of the photos is one of those images that were sent to the Archdiocese by the Rector of the shrine of Guadalupe in Mexico City and that was part of the pilgrimage that the image made from parish to parish at the time of the Jubilee.

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