About Our Parish
As Palm Beach became an ever more popular tourist destination in the 1920s it became evident that a Catholic church was needed to serve the needs of the many visitors and increasing number of permanent residents flocking to the town.
It was in 1926 that a visionary Jesuit priest, Father Felix Clarkson was given permission by the Bishop of St. Augustine to purchase three lots at the corner of North County Road and Sunrise Avenue for the purpose of establishing a “mission” church. The purchase price was $80,000.
Acting as general contractor, and through the generosity of 291 donors, Father Clarkson raised around $300,000 of the $500,000 total cost and broke ground on Easter Sunday, April 4, 1926. The church was completed and Midnight Mass was celebrated December 25, 1926 less than nine months after the start of construction.
On February 13, 1927 the most reverend Patrick Barry, D.O., Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Augustine dedicated the new structure as the “Church of St. Edward”.
It was in January 1941 that Reverend James Cloonan became the first resident pastor of St. Edward and in 1942 a residence was built to house the priests serving the parish. It included a guest suite for the Bishop and space for parish offices. The residence was connected to the church and is now the rectory.
In 1958 property on the east side of North County Road was acquired and the parish center was built largely through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Freeman who wished to make a lasting contribution both to St. Edward parish and to the Town of Palm Beach.
St. Edward parish has been blessed over the years with exceptionally dedicated pastors including the much loved Msgr. Jeremiah P. O’Mahoney, LLD,P.A., who served the community from 1949 to 1971 and the Very Reverend Msgr. Bernard McGrenehan who served from 1971 to 1992. He was succeeded by Fr. Francis J. Lechiara. Father Lechiara passed away in May 2011. Rev. Monsignor Thomas J. Klinzing, JCL was named Pastor in October 2011.
Father Frank (as he was known by all) devoted himself not only to the spiritual wellbeing of the parish but also to the total restoration of the church. With the enthusiastic support of the parishioners (and a final cost of $1.2 million) Father Frank oversaw the repair and restoration of both structural and irreplaceable decorative elements of the church.
These efforts have earned the area’s two most prestigious awards for historical preservation: The Ballinger Award from The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach and The Knott Award from the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
St. Edward church is designed in the Spanish Renaissance style with two towers and a Spanish tile roof. Three sets of bronze doors open to the vestibule which is flanked by chapels dedicated to St. Anthony and St. Theresa. The impressive main Altar of the Sacred Heart made of Carrara marble occupies a niche over 40 feet in height which is painted with a mural of the twelve apostles and surmounted by a depiction of the crucifixion.
The intricate hand painted ceiling and frescoes are another treasure of our church.
Perhaps the most defining features of the church decoration are the magnificent stained glass windows depicting the life of the Blessed Mother, the so-called “Marian windows”.
Today in St. Edward parish we strive to meet the needs of our parishioners and also to reach out to the community in general. We prepare and ship 750 meals a week to local food pantries. In addition, our Parish Center complex is used by the community as a polling place during elections, as the venue for Police Department exams and graduation ceremonies and by our Town Council for larger meetings. And on a rotating basis St. Edward Church hosts the annual Palm Beach inter-faith Thanksgiving service.
We invite you to spend some time in our beautiful church and share in the spiritual life of our parish.