Victoria Park is home to a vibrant and very diverse faith community. We have three churches within our neighborhood and many other houses of worship nearby.
Saint Anthony's, the oldest Catholic Church in Broward County, was dedicated in December 1922 at the northeast corner of SE Third Avenue and Las Olas Boulevard. The church was built from formidable gray stone hauled in from quarries in northern Florida. At that time there were 65 Catholic families located in the area. The 250 seat church provided ample space to cater to the 65 Catholic families living in Fort Lauderdale at the time (total city population 2,000). Many new families moved to Lauderdale during the real estate boom of the 1920s. By the end of the 1930s, the number of winter tourists flocking to Fort Lauderdale proved too great for the 250 seats in the gray stone church on Las Olas Boulevard.
Following World War II, the Saint Anthony community began the task of raising $350,000 to build a new church that would accommodate more than 1,000 people. The cornerstone of the new church at NE Third Street and NE Ninth Avenue was laid in 1948, with construction completed in 1949. In honor of the St Anthony's 90th anniversary, Fr. Singleton, a retired parish pastor, wrote a book chronicling the history of the parish, Pioneer Parish.
Saint Anthony parish proved itself a nurturing and maternal community of faith as Broward’s “mother church” – spawning new parish churches to meet the spiritual needs of the county’s skyrocketing population in central and northern Broward.
Saint Anthony's Elementary School is a long standing fixture of the Victoria Park neighborhood -- offering Pre-K thru 8 instruction. For more details check out VPCA.org's Schools and Children's Committee webpages.
A historical postnote to this story, after the parish's move to Victoria Park, Saint Anthony's original grey stone church was relocated to the corner of NE Third Avenue and NE Fifth Street, where it continues to serve the congregations of Fort Lauderdale's First Lutheran Church, and more recently City Church.
Flourishing communities of today always hide an interesting beginning. In the early years of Fort Lauderdale's historty, there were only a handful of Greek families living in the area, but following World War II, many new families relocated to South Florida. In 1953, Duke Jordan, a local lawyer and some other Greeks approached the Archdiocese about establishing a local church. They were told they needed the minimum of 75 families, far beyond the number of local families existing in the area at that time. Elizabeth Athanasakos, a young attorney, and a handful of other individuals were instrumental in organizing the community and establishing the Greek Orthodox Church of Broward County. On January 11, 1959 the church was incorporated and a charter was granted from the Archdiocese on December 31. 1960. Vacant property for a church was purchased on Riverland Road, and a small storefront on US 441 served as the first church under the direction of Fr.Angelides, a retired priest from Daytona, with Mrs. Helen Nichols as the first Choir Director. Mr. James Bizas, a carpenter-wood carver, placed the first Icon Screen. Later, the church would relocate to Victoria Park, and build its current church in 1990.
The architectural design of St. Demetrios is based on Byzantine themes and reflects the strong heritage and traditions of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.It is laid out in the simple form of a Byzantine cross, all arms equal. The geometric framework of this plan suggests a cross within a cross. Above the intersection of the arms of the cross is a dome, rising over 50 feet above the floor, spanning 72 feet in diameter and weighing 215 tons, is symbolizes the Dome of Heaven, The dome rests on twelve columns, dedicated to the twelve Apostles.Surrounding the exterior structure, at the intersection of each cross arm are eight towers which are dedicated to an Old Testament Prophet, the tallest tower being the bell tower.The Church’s interior design and ecclesiastical adornments also reflect the historical continuity with the sacred traditions of early Christianity.
Saint Demetrios hosts its annual Fort Lauderdale Greeek Festival in Feburary, celebrating the best of Greek food, music, dancing, and culture. Experience authentic Greek foods and homemade Greek pastries; Greek music, traditional Greek Dancing by all our 'Palazakia' and 'Kamaria' dancers; an indoor marketplace full of vendors and an outdoor area for kids with carnival rides & games and other children's activities, and much more.
A new home for an ancient church. The Maronite Church dates back to the early Christians of Antioch where "they were called Christians for the first time" (Acts 11:26). She still uses as Her liturgical language, Syriac, a dialect of the Aramaic that Jesus Himself spoke, and takes Her name from the hermit-priest, Saint Maron, who died in 410 AD. Muslim invasions (7th-10th Centuries), coupled with conflicts from within the Byzantine Empire, caused the Maronites to flee the plains of Syria and their churches and monasteries Lebanon provided a safe haven for the eventual establishment of a stable monastic and parish life, as well as schools to educate the children of the close knit and devout Maronite families. By 687, Maronites organized themselves around Saint John Maron, whom they elected Patriarch of the vacant See of Antioch, and thus developed as a distinct Church within the Catholic Church. Maronites now live in many cultures, their Mother Church is in Lebanon and daughter communities exist throughout the world. Today there are millions of Maronite Catholics throughout the world. The Patriarch, in communion with the Pope of Rome, resides in Bkerke, Lebanon.
When the Maronite parish of Our Lady of Lebanon was established in Miami, in 1973, there were relatively few Maronites in the Fort Lauderdale area. Many Maronites, however, escaped violence in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East by emigrating to South Florida. With the passage of time and with the ever growing Maronite population of South Florida, the church established a new spiritual home in Broward County. In 2011, the church purchased a waterfront property in Victoria Park formerly housing the "Unity Church of Christ of Fort Lauderdale". The inaugural Mass took place on January 6, 2012, the Feast of the Epiphany -- and one year later, January 6, 2013, Bishop Gregory consecrated the church and the altar. The relic of Saint Sharbel (a piece of his bone), was then permanently placed in the altar. Since the day of its inauguration, attendance at all religious services has been extraordinary. Parishioners and friends have been most supportive and have contributed toward the many renovations that have been made and continue to make the church a safer and more beautiful House of God. Several stained glass windows have been designed and installed, confessionals and a baptistery were added, the sacristy (the vesting room for the clergy) was redone, and these are only a few of the many improvements that made in such a short time.
OTHER NEARBY CONGREGATIONS
1st Lutheran Church (Evangelical)