Named for Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint Therese Parish originally began as a mission of Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers. With the support and leadership of Father Thomas Anglim, Pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Parish, parishioners were able to raise the funds need to build the church that they had for many years hoped for. Construction on the mission church was begun in 2001 and completed over a two-year period.
On August 23, 2003, Saint Therese Mission opened its doors to an attendance of more than
850 people and was officially dedicated by Bishop John J. Nevins on October 1, 2003. The Diocese appointed Fr. Thomas Anglim, Administrator.
The 850-seat church was designed to fulfill the vision of a provisional church that would serve a dual role as parish hall. The building has seating areas on all four sides of the altar, two reconciliation rooms, a full commercial kitchen, a small meeting room, a sacristy, and a small office. The master plan for the site includes a potential dedicated church building situated immediately adjacent to the new facility, with both buildings connected by a covered walkway and facing a courtyard where a statue of Saint Therese now stands.
Fr. Thomas Anglim retired as the Administrator of Saint Therese Mission and as Pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Parish on October 15, 2004, at which time Saint Therese became an independent mission. Fr. Mario Kono was appointed by Bishop Nevins as the new Administrator on October 15, 2004. He served this Faith Community as priest for nine years.
St. Therese Mission was elevated to the canonical status of a parish by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on April 2, 2011 in a pastoral effort to reorganize and better serve the spiritual needs of the faithful in North Fort Myers, Florida.
On May 22, 2013, Bishop Frank Dewane announced the appointment of Fr. Thomas Heck as the first Pastor of St. Therese Parish, effective June 10, 2013. Fr. Tom was officially installed Pastor of St. Therese Parish by Bishop Dewane on December 15, 2013 at the 10:30 AM Mass where Fr. Tom recited a profession of faith followed by an oath of fidelity; the installation ceremony concluded with the signing of official documents. Fr. Tom Heck served the St. Therese Parish Community for six and one half years. He retired on February 3, 2020.
Bishop Frank Dewane appointed Fr. Jan Antonik to be the next priest to serve the Faith Community of St. Therese in North Fort Myers effective on February 3, 2020. Fr. Jan was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Venice in 2003. The Faith Community of St. Therese Parish joins together in welcoming Fr. Jan as our spiritual leader and guide to bring us close to the Lord. We will hold Fr. Jan in our prayers as he begins to lead the St. Therese Faith Family.
Since its beginning in 2003, the ministries at St. Therese Parish have continued to grow and flourish. The Parish is very active spiritually, liturgically and socially, with many volunteers giving their time and talent to help make it a family community. Saint Therese Parish currently has nearly 1,400 full-time and seasonal registered families.
There is no question than St. Therese's has been blessed with growth and development over the years. The story of the parish is more than an account of how a piece of farmland was transformed with a new building and equipment, however. It is more than anything a story of people, the people of God, bishops, priests, sisters, men, women and children, who formed a community of worship and service. Today, the story of community continues to grow at St. Therese's. Thanks be to God!
Administrators, Pastors, Saint Therese Parish
Rev. Thomas Anglim 2003-2004
Rev. Mario Kono 2004-2013
Rev. Thomas Heck 2013-2020
Rev. Jan Antonik 2020-