"You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
Fr. Alfonso Cely was born in Colombia in 1968. After studying Hotel & Tourism, he worked for American Airlines. He was then called to follow the Lord as a priest. Fr. Alfonso entered the Dominican Order in January 1993 and pronounced his first vows in 1994.
Fr. Alfonso studied Philosophy at St. Thomas University and Theology at the Studium Generale of the Dominicans in Bogota, Colombia. His specialization is in Dogmatics from Pontifical Bolivariana University in Medellin, Colombia.
In 1998, Fr. Alfonso performed his perpetual vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 2001 by Bishop Augusto Castro on the feast of St. Charles Borromeo on November 4.
Fr. Alfonso came to America to work for the Diocese of Orlando as a missionary. Bishop Norbert Dorsey assigned him to Blessed Trinity in Ocala as Parish Vicar for nine years.
Bishop John Noonan appointed him as Parish Vicar at St. Mary Magdalene in Altamonte Springs for three years. In 2015, he was assigned as Pastor at St. Ann Church to this day.
He has found a wonderful family since he arrived in this country. According to Fr. Alfonso, "He will die in this blessed Land of Liberty."
We want to welcome you to our beautiful and great Parish! This place of worship was founded in 1969. During these fifty-two years, with the effort and love of many faithful people, we have been growing in number and holiness, making us one of the biggest Parishes of our Western Deanery in the Diocese of Orlando. This extraordinary vision to dedicate a place in the heart of Florida to worship God started with less than 50 families who worked very hard to build and develop this magnificent place of contemplation and prayer. Today, more than 1,500 families are registered in our Parish. We have many visitors from other states and countries who visit central Florida during the summer vacation season or winter when our country's north becomes very cold. Our beloved "snowbirds" know very well that they have a warm place during the winter season here at our Parish, and in summer, you remain in our hearts and prayers.
With our hearts renewed, we want to welcome all of you to be part of our Parish. We have worked hard with Deacons Steve, Jairo, Frank and Richard, and all our staff and volunteers to create the best environment in our temple and in all our gardens to make St. Ann "a great garden of contemplation and prayer." If our temple is closed, you will always find a perfect spot to pray, contemplate, and have time to spend with God.
Our Parish has 30 acres where you will find a vivid orange grove, a new shrine completely open and dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, donated by John the XXIII movement, and an outside altar donated by the Religious Education office. There are many olive trees and a beautiful view of Lake Eva that gives visitors the feeling of being in the Holy Land. The Stations of the Cross in the garden impel us to walk with Jesus and to meditate upon his passion and love for humanity. Our prayer tower is dedicated to the unborn, where you may light a candle for your intentions. There are statues in honor of Mary, the Holy Family, St. Ann, Jesus playing with the children, and the Guardian Angel. The garden is in honor of St. Joseph. You can enjoy all the flowers and ornamental plants, old oak and palm trees that decorate and become silent witnesses of our Parish's 51 years of existence.
In our church, you will find a gorgeous pyrography mural and the Stations of the Cross made by the Spanish artist Jose Aznar in which he captured the scene of Jesus resurrected sharing a dinner with a group of parishioners-founders, and the two priests, Fr. Carlos Azupin and Fr. Anderson, who built the church.
But when you get to St. Ann's, you will find a strong community of faith that yearns to share the Good News of Salvation with all of you. More than 350 students are in our Religious Education program; 47 catechumens were baptized, confirmed, and received the Eucharist for the first time at our Easter Vigil. Our prayer groups (Cursillo, John the XXIII, Charismatic group, Youth Ministry); religious organizations (Knights of Columbus, Columbiettes); a group that prays the Holy Rosary every morning before the 9:00 AM Mass for the unborn and the priests; and many ministers and volunteers make our church a favorite destination to be a good Catholic, a person of prayer.
Inside the church, we have room for 1,075 souls who want to join us in our vibrant liturgy in English and Spanish with wonderful choirs that enhance our celebrations. I am blessed to live in such a community of faith; they are the best!
Only you are missing! Come and see! We are waiting for you! Come and be a part of our dreams and let us work together to build the Kingdom of God here and now.
Let's make St. Ann's an excellent place to stay and be in touch with God.
Welcome to St. Ann Parish, the multicultural community in the heart of Florida!
Fr. Alfonso Cely
Lord Jesus Christ,
Who on the cross accepted the will of your heavenly Father,
offering your life for the salvation of the World; please have mercy on all of us, and protect our families and us from any harm that this pandemic can cause.
Fill the hearts of people that are suffering illness or have lost a member of their families during this pandemic time with the love and light of the Holy Spirit to understand your will in this adverse circumstance that we are living now.
Through the intercession of Mary, your mother, and our mother that close to your cross accepted your will, and who, after your body was placed in the tomb, waited lovingly for your glorious resurrection, which transforms the life of the World.
Fr. Alfonso Cely
My Dear Family of St. Ann:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a difficult and challenging time for the world. Many valuable and beautiful traditions have significantly developed. One day we awoke, and our life was not the same. Our church closed, and we were not able to celebrate Holy Week and Easter. After being closed for two months, we are now opening our doors and celebrating Mass. We are thrilled to see our parishioners returning to celebrate the Mystery of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist together. Be assured that we are taking all kinds of precautions by wearing masks, suspending the rite of peace, distributing only the Body of Christ at the end of Mass, having our daily celebrations last 30 minutes, and our weekend celebrations 45 minutes. We are praying to the Lord for the end of this pandemic, protection of our parishioners, the sick, their caregivers, physicians, and first responders, and for those who have lost family members and loved ones. We are also praying for all those who, in many ways, are more than ready to serve--from the grocery store employees to all the people who continue working hard, making it possible to put food on our table.
I miss hugging my parishioners in the Narthex! For me, it is an energetic experience and very uplifting. But, we have discovered other ways to connect through our spirituality. We become one in Jesus our Lord, and from a distance can feel the love and affection which reigns among us as a community of faith. We want you to feel welcome and safe in our parish. We are following the protocols set by our Diocese during this period. We are thoroughly cleaning the church and facilities after each ceremony, and for now, our capacity is only 25%, physically separated, but spiritually connected. Even with a 25% capacity limit, we still have space available for more within that limit!
We are completely committed to working hard to serve you and help you from our hearts. Our mission is to continue keeping the fire and joy of the Lord and the Holy Spirit in our lives and to share with you this gladness with the world. This pandemic has tried to still the joy from our hearts, but we can overcome it with the joy and hope of the Resurrected one who lives and reigns forever and ever.
Thank you for all your support and love manifested in many ways. We are the great family of God, the great family of St. Ann.
God bless you, and remember…see you Sunday!
Fr. Alfonso Cely
St. Ann Catholic Church
1311 Robinson Drive, Haines City, FL 33844, United States
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