History of Gesù Catholic Church
The Fathers of the Society of Jesus have been instrumental in the establishment of Gesù Catholic Church from its inception. Gesù Parish was established as a result of the large Catholic community present in Miami. The original wooden church was built on land donated by Henry Flagler, and as Miami began to grow the need for a larger Church became a necessity. In 1921, the first cornerstone of this concrete and steel structure was laid to suit the needs of the growing Catholic community in Miami
Through the years, Gesù has been a spiritual ambassador to Catholics living in South Florida. It has taken on many roles aside from being a Church. For more than 75 years, Gesù Church started Gesù School which provided elementary and high school education. The school was run by the Sisters of St. Joseph
In addition, the Centro Hispano Católico at Gesù assisted Cuban refugees and refugees from other Central American countries with basic needs and helped with assimilation into a foreign country. From 1959-1982, the Centro Hispano Católico provided refugees with food, clothes, medical care, jobs, housing, daycare, school tuition, English classes, and immigration assistance. In 1962, Gesù served as headquarters to the Pedro Pan operation which bought more than 14,000 unaccompanied children from Communist Cuba
In September 1961, Gesù housed Belén Jesuit Preparatory School for a year and a half. After being exiled from Cuba, Jesuit Priests opened a school for refugee students who were living in Miami. This was the beginning of Belén Jesuit in South Florida.
Today, Gesù Catholic Church remains the spiritual center of downtown Miami. As the oldest church in South Florida, Gesù invites all to visit this historic landmark that has been serving South Florida’s Catholic community for nearly 120 years.