History of Saint Thomas More Church & Priory

St. Thomas Church built according to a Spanish style mission.

As the case of many Mass centers of the SSPX all over the world, St. Thomas More Church was established after a patient and courageous search for a decent place of worship amidst the 1970's general opposition to traditional doctrine and liturgy.

In the 1980's Catholics in the Orlando area collaborated with a few priests who were faithful to the unchanging doctrine of the Catholic Church and ancient liturgy. These faithful then requested the assistance of the SSPX priests in order to receive the Sunday Mass and the sacraments.

From the first Mass celebrated on August 16, 1992, at the Radisson Hotel in Orlando, these first faithful persevered through humble beginnings in the similar way of so many SSPX parishioners founding their chapels: They went from a hotel to a clubhouse, a garden club, a storefront, a mini-storage warehouse and finally to the present location of their future church on Riverview Avenue in Sanford.

The land for the new church was purchased in early 1997, and the building of the church started in 2003.

In 2012, after years of being served every Sunday from priests of Kansas City, St. Thomas More Church was finally given a resident pastor, Fr. Marc Vernoy. With him, as the rules of the Society stipulate, two other priests were assigned to the new St. Thomas More Priory, the residence of the priests.

The Priory, residence of the priests.

From the Archives

Saturday, November 8, 2003, marked a new beginning for the St. Thomas More Chapel in Sanford, Florida.

After Mass in honor of Our Lady, Fr. Gregory Post (SSPX) along with a large group of parishioners drove to the new chapel property for the ground-breaking ceremony. With Fr. Post in the lead, the parishioners made a procession around the grounds singing hymns under the warm Florida sunshine. After some prayers, Fr. Post walked the periphery of the future church building blessing the ground with holy water. Then, Fr. Post, Teresa W., our coordinator, and Peter P., the chapel treasurer used a ceremonial shovel for breaking ground on this memorable occasion.

Monday morning November 10th found the contractor diligently at work preparing the grounds for the foundation of the church, parking lot and the 1 ½ acre "lake" the St. John's Water Management enforced upon our property.

From the first Mass on August 16, 1992, at the Radisson Hotel in Orlando and following the routine of so many SSPX Chapels, the chapel went from a hotel to a clubhouse, a garden club, a storefront and finally to our present location in a mini-storage warehouse. We truly felt we were in the days of the catacombs.

The land for the new church was purchased in early 1997 and lies just north of the main highway (Rt. 46) in Sanford. Surrounded by a residential area the first acres presented a peaceful oasis for our future church, rectory, and school. The purchase was only the beginning. Serious planning started early in 1998 and the seemingly insurmountable job of pulling permits commenced in December 1998 with the final permit and blessing of the city and county coming this November 2004.

The church when completed will be a Spanish style mission and will hold at least 200 people. At present, our Mass attendance is around 95 people. It is projected the building will be completed by Easter or late spring of the next year 2004.

(Chronicle of St. Thomas More by Bruce Rhea)