Our History

On September 11, 1892, also the feast of the Most Holy Name of the Virgin Mary, the first known and recorded Mass on the lower Pinellas peninsula was celebrated at the Hotel San Jose in the area of Saint Petersburg now known as Driftwood.  The area was served by the Jesuits of Sacred Heart, Tampa.  1892-1920.

1907 The first Saint Mary's, a wooden structure, was erected at the Northwest corner of Sixth Street and Fifth Avenue South.

1909 Construction started at 2nd location of Saint Mary's, Fourth Street and Third Avenue South.

1920 Saint Mary is elevated to Parish status.

On November 21, 1920, Fr. James J. O'Riordan, STL of the Diocese of Saint Augustine was the first secular priest assigned to Saint Mary's.  He studied for the priesthood in Ireland.  He also studied for four years at the North American College in Rome where he received a degree in sacred theology.  In 1922 Fr. O'Riordan purchased ten acres of land at 12th Street and 18th Avenue North for $9,500 and built Saint Paul's Church in 1925 in the Roman style.  In 1926 he purchased ten lots on 22nd Avenue South for $2000 and built Saint Joseph's in the Florentine style.  Both Churches were constructed from the monies of Saint Mary. 

1922 Saint Mary is canonically accepted.

1929 Construction started on the present Saint Mary's.  It is Byzantine in style with some Romanesque features.  It was styled after San Stefano's Church in Rome.  Initial building costs were $129,000.00.  Saint Mary's is octagonal with brick exterior and a clay tile roof.  The property measures 200' x 210' and in 1928 was purchased from the estate of General John C. Williams, a founding father of Saint Petersburg. 

January 26, 1930 Conerstone laid by Bishop Patrick Barry.

1968 Msgr. James Gloeckler was installed as the third pastor and changed the name of the church to Saint Mary, Our Lady of Grace. This is the same year the Diocese of Saint Petersburg was founded with Bishop Charles B. McLaughlin as its first shepherd.

Major renovations occurred in 1955, 1968, 1995, 2004 and 2017.

Pastors of Saint Mary Our Lady of Grace

Rev. James J. O'Riordan, STL          1920-1941

Msgr. Patrick J. Donahue                1941-1968

Msgr. James Gloeckler                   1968-1972

Msgr. John P. McNulty                   1972-1986

Rev. John Colgan                           1986-1988

From 1988 to present day, the church is administered by the Franciscan Friars, (T.O.R.) of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis Penance

Rev. Bernardine J. Smith, T.O.R.     1988-2002

Rev. Luke Robertson, T.O.R.           2003-2005

Rev. Cletus M.S. Watson, T.O.R.    2005-2012

Rev. Damian-Vincent Amantia, T.O.R. 2012-Present