Holy Name of Jesus humbly began as a mission parish of Ascension Catholic Church in Eau Gallie, FL. On Christmas Eve 1959, the first Mass was celebrated by Reverend Father Martin B. Power, founding Pastor of Ascension. Through the cooperation of land developer Martin McGuire (among the first to join HNJ with his wife Veronica when it started as a mission of Ascension Church in 1959), the Mass was celebrated in an unfinished house on Banana River Drive in Indian Harbour Beach. As the mission parish grew, arrangements were made to celebrate Mass in the Indian Harbour Beach Community Center. The Most Reverend Joseph P. Hurley, Archbishop of St. Augustine (affectionately known as “Ten Acre Joe” for his farsighted policy of buying ten-acre parish sites) had purchased our first ten acres in 1956. At the suggestion of Father Power, an additional 3.7 acres was purchased in June of 1961, with a 290’ frontage on Highway A1A.
Ground was broken for a provisional Church on September 9, 1962. The Church had a seating capacity of 480 and included a 2,000-sq. ft. Hall. Archbishop Hurley dedicated the Church and Hall in March 1963. There were about 250 families in the Church when the dedication took place.
The children of HNJ attended Ascension School, which opened in September, 1961, staffed by the Irish Sisters of Mercy of Ardee, Ireland. Due to population growth in the area, Father Power recognized the immediate need of a school at HNJ. In March, 1964, the school had promising beginnings with approximately 50 students and three grades. Classes were held in the Church Hall. By September, 1964, the new school was completed and housed the first four grades. Each year an additional grade was added through the eighth grade. In 1965, portable buildings were added, and in 1968, kindergarten opened.
Technically, HNJ remained a mission of Ascension Parish until May, 1968, when Monsignor Power was appointed Pastor of HNJ by The Most Reverend William D. Borders. A year later, Monsignor Power was transferred to Lakeland where he died suddenly on March 22, 1972. Father Arthur Dunnigan was named the second Pastor of HNJ in June, 1969. He was instrumental in purchasing valuable land with 367’ of frontage on A1A and adjacent to the existing church property. This 4.3-acre property purchased in 1970 included the Greystone Apartments, which were converted to a priest residence while the garage was converted into parish offices. HNJ now had approximately 18 acres of prime property. In February, 1974, Father Arthur Dunnigan took a leave of absence due to illness. Father Patrick Quinn became the third Pastor of HNJ from 1974-76 and Father Peter J. Henry, who served during that time as Associate Pastor, was appointed the fourth Pastor in September of 1976.
Due to the rapid growth of HNJ, the provisional Church built in 1963 became overcrowded so Father Henry initiated a major fund drive in 1978 and raised a million dollars to build the permanent church with a seating capacity of 800 people. The Most Reverend Thomas Grady, Bishop of Orlando, dedicated the Church on October 26, 1980.
Father David P. Page, former Rector of St. James Cathedral, Orlando, became the fifth Pastor of HNJ in January, 1987. Advancements continued with the parish becoming computerized in 1988. The convent was renovated in 1989 and was converted into the Administration Center to house much needed offices for the pastoral and lay staff members. During 1987-88, a nationally known consultant on church process, facilitated a parish-wide program called Vision 2000 in which parishioners decided on priorities, both in regard to ministry and facilities. This, in turn, led to the restructuring of the parish ministries into five commissions with pastoral and business administrators serving directly under the pastor.
A successful capital fund drive was conducted in the fall of 1988 to provide an education center, an activity center, a sports pavilion, a traffic light on A1A, sewer for the entire parish plant, as well as 10 acres of adjoining property for parking and expansion. Continuing into the 90’s, new ministries were developed and many new buildings were constructed, including ten additional classrooms. At this time, the school had 430 students as well as 76 three- and four-year-old preschoolers. A rectory for the priests was completed in 1995, thus providing space in the old rectory for the expansion of the St. Vincent de Paul Assistance Center, the Outreach Thrift Store and a Christian Marriage and Family Counseling Center, staffed by licensed counselors.
The continued growth of the parish to about 3000 families once again presented the need for a larger worship space. In August, 1997, work began on an expanded place of worship to seat 1300 people (including a 155 seat overflow daily liturgy chapel). Father David P. Page, Pastor, celebrated the first Mass on August 23, 1998, and the Most Reverend Norbert M. Dorsey, Bishop of Orlando, dedicated the Church on October 4, 1998.
In 2001, HNJ School was recognized as a U.S. Dept. of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and in 2003, was given a U.S. Department of Education “No Child Left Behind Award”.
In 2004, hurricanes Charlie, Francis and Jeanne unfortunately damaged a great deal of the property, necessitating the new building fund drive, “Share the Vision”. Also, in 2006 & 07, the school received 8 new modular classrooms and a new soccer & track field.
In 2007, the Athletic Center was completed and the refurbished Thrift Shop and St. Vincent de Paul Outreach re-opened. In 2008, the Life Center opened, containing the parish offices, Parish Hall and meeting rooms.
In 2012, Treasures of the Son - a new child care facility opened on the south side of the Athletic Center and the Book & Gift Shop was relocated into a larger space in the Life Center and reopened as In His Holy Name Book & Gift Shop.
In 2013, the old Book & Gift Shop in the church was renovated and reopened as the new Welcome Center. Catholic Charities of Central Florida also moved to our campus and into part of the old administration building which was renovated to suit their needs.
In 2016, we broke ground on an addition to the rectory to serve as a retirement suite for Msgr. Page and future retired clergy.
As we look back with gratitude to those parishioners and clergy who paved the way for the present generation, we continue to look forward to fulfilling the vision God has given us for the future.