Holy Trinity, Clearwater and Holy Spirit, Safety Harbor hold Celebration for The Rev. Joseph “Joe” Diaz

On April 28, 2024, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Clearwater and Church of the Holy Spirit in Safety Harbor held a combined service and picnic in celebration of The Rev. Joseph “Joe” Diaz and his wife Jan Diaz. It was a lovely day for a picnic and about 230 people from both parishes, friends, and family of Fr. Joe were in attendance. The Rt. Rev. Barry Howe was the celebrant at the combined service and The Rev. Canon Ray Bonoan served as preacher. The Rev. Daniel Lemley (rector of Holy Trinity) presented Fr. Joe with the title Rector Emeritus for his 23 years of ministry and being the first rector of Holy Trinity.

In June 1989, Fr. Joe was assigned to Holy Trinity from the Cathedral Church of St. Peter as vicar. A group of 40 people were meeting in a small house purchased by the diocese at the time. During his 23-year ministry, the church grew from the house to a quad wide portable building, and then into the 22k square-foot sanctuary building and parish hall as they stand today.

While the physical buildings were important to growth, the church membership grew 8-fold through Fr. Joe’s leadership. He was a true pastor to members of Holy Trinity as well as the greater community, and the world. He presided over countless baptisms, weddings, and burials…always making each life event memorable and personal.

The combined church service and picnic was originally conceived as a celebration of the founding of Holy Trinity, but as the day was unfolding it became clear that these types of multi-congregation events should be encouraged across the diocese. There is a real sense of vitality when multiple groups of Episcopalians gather to celebrate and share God’s love.