Father Mike Smith is serving as Nativity Catholic Church’s pastor and is leading the large church to unity.

Father Mike Smith is making Nativity Catholic Church his home after being assigned as the parish’s pastor last summer.

Smith said he went to the large parish looking at it from a new parishioner’s perspective. He wanted to see what new members would need to feel welcomed and encouraged to get involved.

Before joining the Brandon church, Smith served as the pastor at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Temple Terrace for seven years.

“My goal is to help the parish with decisions for the future. Coming out of COVID, things were quite different,” said Smith. “… The biggest goal is to formulate a mission for the parish of where we would like to go in the next five, 10 [and] 15 years.”

Following the reopening of the community after the pandemic, Smith was responsible for overseeing the operations of church ministries. He also worked toward creating unity between those serving in different areas and creating a strong church family.

“Nativity is a very large parish and it’s very easy to get segmented in such a large parish. But, as we move forward in unity with the parish staff, volunteers and parishioners, then we’re all responding to the same call of whatever the Lord is wanting us to do,” said Smith.

Smith uses leadership and teambuilding skills that are taught to businessmen, and he said these ideas translate well to building a strong church team.

Prior to being ordained in May of 2000, Smith served in the Air Force for seven years, serving assignments in Colorado, Korea and South Dakota. Smith’s father was in the Air Force, so he was following in his footsteps to serve his country. This calling to nationwide service translated to his calling to serve the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

“I came into the church when I was older, as an adult. I saw the service and the dedication priests had to the people, and I felt God was calling me to that,” said Smith about his decision to become a priest. “So, I prayed about it and discerned and finally made the decision to apply to become a seminarian.”

For more information on Nativity Catholic Church, visit the website at www.nativitycatholicchurch.org.

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.