Nativity Catholic Church mourns the passing of Monsignor James Carreras Lara.

For three decades, Monsignor James ‘Jaime’ Carreras Lara served as pastor of Nativity Catholic Church. In February, Msgr. Lara passed away from a sudden heart attack while in the hospital near his home in Spain. Nativity Catholic Church held a Memorial Mass on February 23 to celebrate his life.

In 1957, Msgr. Lara was ordained for the Diocese of Toledo, Spain. Two years later, he was sent as a missionary priest to the Diocese of St. Augustine. Then, in 1969, Msgr. Lara transferred to the newly-established Diocese of St. Petersburg. He faithfully served as the pastor of Nativity Catholic Church until retiring in 1999. During those 30 years, the parish experienced tremendous growth.

Reverend John Tapp, the current pastor of Nativity Catholic Church, said, “Msgr. Lara pastored Nativity Parish in a time of unparalleled growth. He took this small mission community and built up a church, school and parish to the vibrant community which it is today.”

In August 1999, at the request of Bishop Robert Lynch, Pope St. John Paul II bestowed the title of Monsignor upon Lara. Within four months of his retirement, Msgr. Lara was asked to temporarily assume the role of Administrator of St. Brendan Parish in Clearwater. In 2014, Msgr. Lara returned to Spain to live closer to his siblings, and he remained there until his death.

Rev. Tapp continued, “While Msgr. Lara built buildings and set up this city set on a hill, he above and beyond all else, attempted to be a beacon of hope to so many who otherwise might feel helpless. In the five years I have been here, I have heard incessant stories about how Msgr. Lara reached out to individuals to help them in their need, to comfort them in their sorrow, to encourage them in their vocations and, yes, to even give them a kick in the pants when they needed someone to push them when they just felt they couldn’t go any further.”

Although Msgr. Lara has moved on from this world, the profound impact he had at Nativity is still felt by its parishioners.

Nativity Catholic Church is located at 705 E. Brandon Blvd. in Brandon. For more information on the church, visit www.nativitycatholicchurch.org.