The exterior was not completed for two years because of the lack of funds and it was not until 1919 that the interior could receive attention.Masses were however, celebrated during construction. The little church came to be known as in honor of the patron saint of Owen Burns’ mother, Martha, who had suggested to her son that he donate the first lot.The group solicited persons with specific backgrounds and particular talents who were willing to serve on the first council.Bylaws followed guidelines set by the Diocese and provided for annual elections. Martha people to be involved in parish and community activities, saying: “As we travel the road to the Father, our journey requires signposts in addition to the liturgies we conduct and the words we say within the church, important as they are.The local Catholic Woman’s Club recently established, sent a committee to St.Augustine to petition the Bishop of the diocese, to assign a resident priest to St. Priests however, were still quite scarce and Bishop Barry was unable to grant this request. Shortly after Father Elslander’s assignment to the Sarasota-Bradenton parishes, the increase in church attendance required that each parish have a resident pastor. Martha Parish in Sarasota for the next forty years. Following upon this was the organization of a junior guild or Sodality, for the younger parishioners and an active group of altar boys was formed.When Father Elslander marked “Paid” on the last bill for the $55,000 church building the parish launched another five-year fund-raising campaign for a parish school.The first wing of was erected at Eighth Street and Orange Avenue, and it opened on November 13, 1950 staffed by the Benedictine Sisters of Holy Name Priory, San Antonio, Florida. A yearly increase in the enrollment led to the building of a combination cafeteria and auditorium in May 1952, and the final classroom wings were added in January 1954.
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During the depression years it became a survival effort merely to maintain the Parish. The first Mass was celebrated in the church on Easter Sunday 1941. The parish maintained a mission post at Venice, twenty miles south of Sarasota.Starting in 1974, the school was staffed for a number of years by the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, New York, assisted by dedicated lay teachers. Martha Parish along with the other Catholic parishes of the west coast of Central-Florida passed from the jurisdiction of the was appointed pastor.During the tenure of Father Lawler, the parish’s involvement in community activities expanded. Martha School cafeteria became the kitchen of Community Mobile Meals where upwards of 1,300 meals weekly were prepared and packed by volunteers for delivery by other volunteers, initially from local churches.Construction began the next year with Until the nineteen-twenties the Catholics in the area numbered 13 or 14 families.
Coming to the Mission Church was an especially lengthy and arduous trip for many families because of difficulties in travel.
Our journey demands to be recognized by the fruits of our works.” became pastor of St.