In the late 1960s, Catholic faithful in south Hillsborough County worshiped at St. Anne Catholic Church in Ruskin. As residents of Sun City Center grew, a handful of energetic Catholics petitioned the Bishop of St. Petersburg, Bishop Charles McLaughlin for the establishment of a Catholic Church in Sun City Center proper.
Challenged by the need to come up with sufficient funds to cover the entire cost of the project before permission to start the construction would be granted, these parishioners, with Charles Mather as General Chairman, raised enough money to cover the total cost- $148,372.13. At that time, there were 159 registered parishioners, and the original Prince of Peace Church, with a seating capacity of 325, seemed adequate.
Community growth in the years that followed, which included the opening of King’s Point development, prompted consideration of expanded facilities. While a new, larger church was still in the contemplative stage, more Masses were added to the schedule at the old church to accommodate the growing number of parishioners and visitors. Eventually, the parish outgrew its home and plans for a new, larger church were approved.
In November of 1981, the same golden shovel, whose shining blade broke the ground for the original church, again performed the ground-breaking for the present church. Led by Bishop W. Thomas Larkin and the Pastor, James F. Herlihy, representatives from 17 local Sun City Center organizations dug as parishioners and friends applauded. The new church had a seating capacity of about 560 and was built at an estimated cost of $800,000. Construction provided for future expansion to seat about 1,000 people.
In April of 1984. Bishop Larkin appointed Monsignor Diego Conesa as pastor. As the parish grew, Monsignor Conesa soon found that, despite additional Masses, further expansion was necessary. Plans were promptly drawn to add 30 feet to each side of the Church to increase capacity to a total of about 1,006.
Another undertaking by Monsignor Conesa was the establishment of a mission to meet the needs of the Spanish speaking community in south Hillsborough County, named aptly, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Wimauma. Prince of Peace Church, with Parish Council approval, pledged financial support to complete the project. Today, the Knights of Columbus sponsor a monthly food and money collection to benefit Our Lady’s Pantry located at the mission.
With the retirement of Msgr. Conesa in August of 1998, Bishop Robert Lynch appointed Monsignor Harold Bumpus as pastor. Monsignor Bumpus reorganized the administrative structure of the parish, computerized the offices and education department, designed and installed the magnificent new pipe organ, and thoroughly renovated the interior of the church after a necessary replacement of the roof.
One of the first actions that Msgr. Bumpus took was to name the exceptional parish center that was constructed under Msgr. Conesa’s pastorate, the Msgr. Diego Conesa Parish Center.
When Msgr. Bumpus retired in June 2008, Bishop Robert Lynch appointed Father Joel M. Kovanis as pastor. Father Kovanis has continued the work of his predecessors by encouraging the spiritual development of parishioners. In March 2010, the parish hosted a parish mission dedicated to healing, especially healing for those suffering from cancer. A beautiful, Demetz statue of St. Peregrine, patron of those afflicted with cancer, was dedicated by the Servite director of the National Shrine of St. Peregrine, Chicago, IL.
We invite you make the future bright at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Sun City Center, by your own stewardship of time, talent and treasure.