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The Florida Catholic

St. Rita breaks ground for new projects

Ground breaking ceremony at St. Rita Catholic Church

WELLINGTON  |  St. Rita Parish began a new chapter in its history Nov. 19 , 2023, with a formal groundbreaking ceremony following the 11 a.m. Mass for a new family life center. Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito presided at the liturgy, then led the prayer service outside, blessing the site where the building will be constructed.

The new parish center in Wellington will begin to take shape as soon as the demolition and removal of the former church/parish center building, dedicated in December 1983, is completed.

“After many years of sacrifice, hard work and prayer, we are finally having our prayers answered,” said Father Mario Castañeda, pastor, during the groundbreaking ceremony. “Our new parish center will now boast a parish hall, state-of-the-art kitchen, office spaces, gift shop and many meeting rooms for all the ministries in our church.”

Both Father Castañeda and Bishop Barbarito expressed gratitude about the project.

“This truly is a vibrant, faith-filled community for which we give thanks,” the bishop said in his homily. “And as this morning we break ground for a new family life center, which will be used in order to continue to build up and strengthen this parish, what’s so important is our getting together, our supporting each other.”

Looking toward the day’s Gospel reading on Jesus’ parable of the talents, along with Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, Bishop Barbarito said, “As we try to give thanks not simply by words but how we live, we ask the Lord to help us to take what he has given to us, not to look to what others have or don’t have, and not to take what he has given to us and bury it in the ground. What he has given us is a relationship with him. That makes the difference. Let us continue to build that relationship, to grow in that relationship, and in that we will experience the joy, the richness that only God can give.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, Father Castañeda thanked the bishop for his steadfast support of the parish and encouragement in building the family life center. “Honestly, we would not be here today if not because of your help,” he said.

Addressing the parishioners, Father Castañeda said he had been waiting to begin the project for 20 years. “I have been dreaming and having nightmares about this day. So, that is why I celebrate with   graciousness this moment.”

He added, “I want to thank all of you who have been part of this community and been supporting us throughout all these years to make sure that this family center is going to be built for the grace and the glory of God.”

Beginning the groundbreaking ceremony, which was moderated by longtime TV news anchor Jim Sackett, Father Castañeda listed a few historical highlights, including St. Rita’s start on July 1, 1980, under its first pastor, Father Walter Dockerill. For the first few years, the parish celebrated liturgies at the Lions Club in Royal Palm Beach until the parish center was completed.

“Much to the surprise of many, a new church building did emerge from the shared vision of many people who came together to study, reflect and pray for the creative guidance of the Holy Spirit,” Father Castañeda said. “The design of the building reflected the strong spirit of our community that is so important to St. Rita’s. We have built on the rich foundation of the many people who have gone before us, carrying on the mission to live the life of Christ in humble service to one another.”

The current church building was dedicated on Sept. 20, 1992. “As we celebrate our groundbreaking, my prayer is that St. Rita and the greater community will come often to pray with us and feel at home,” he said.

Father Brian King, episcopal secretary to Bishop Barbarito, who moved to Wellington and St. Rita with his parents when he was 18 years old, spoke at the ceremony, bringing to mind the many benefactors who died before seeing their dream of a new family life center become a reality.  

“I just want all of us to stop and reflect on the happiness of Father D, the happiness of Father Munro (second pastor, Father Donald Munro), the happiness of all of our family and friends, beloved members of St. Rita, who gave of their time, their talent and their treasure, not only to build this church but this new family life center, and they will rejoice as we enjoy the fruit of their labor,” said Father King, who was ordained a deacon (May 1999) and priest (May 2000) at St. Rita.

For more information about St. Rita Parish, visit, call 561-793-8544