St. Francis of Assisi Parish was established in 1948 as one of the early churches formed under the Diocese of St. Augustine prior to 1950. In 1958, the Vatican established the new Diocese of Miami, which included all churches in Palm Beach County.
Subsequently, in 1984, the Vatican established the Diocese of Palm Beach, which includes the parish of St. Francis of Assisi. The parish included many people who were former members of Blessed Martin de Porres Chapel, a mission of St. Ann Parish in West Palm Beach. Those people brought with them a rich diversity and the recognition and influence of Black Catholics in the church community.
For many years, St. Francis was staffed and run by priests from the order of Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Those who have been in the area for a long time may remember priests from St. Francis celebrating Sunday Mass at the Colonnades Hotel on Singer Island. After the death of Oblate Father Art Obin, the order turned the parish back to the diocese for staffing and management.
Since its founding, St. Francis of Assisi has served the communities of Riviera Beach, Lake Park, North Palm Beach and Singer Island. St. Clare Parish, which was established in 1960, began as a mission from St. Francis of Assisi. In addition, the Santa Maria Council of the Knights of Columbus was instituted at St. Francis of Assisi Church.
St. Francis of Assisi School was widely attended by many students in the community. The church and school had a convent on site, which was staffed by Dominican sisters from Adrian, Michigan, who served as teachers. The school property, which was transferred from the parish to the Diocese of Palm Beach, has become home to Catholic Charities.
The St. Francis of Assisi Choir was started by its longtime organist, Edward Montefusco. The choir, under the direction of its current leader, David Cotton, is known as the foremost gospel choir in the county. The choir has sung at many venues and has accompanied celebrities, including Paul Anka, Donna Summer and others.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish has a rich past that is based on its strong love of the Lord, its love for the community and its family atmosphere.