History of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish

Our Lady Queen of MartyrsThe church was official canonically under the title of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on September 29, 1956 by Archbishop Joseph P. Hurley, Archbishop of Saint Augustine Diocese. Our Lady Queen of Martyrs was with the Diocese of Saint Augustine until it was moved to the Archdiocese of Miami in 1959.

Monsignor John J. O’Looney graciously presented the land to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, which was owned by Saint Anthony’s Parish as a Mission.

Our Lady Queen of MartyrsThe architects, Watson and Deutschmann, of Miami, Florida designed the church building. The sanctuary was carpeted gray and separated from the nave by a communion rail executed in birch and finished in a dark natural stain with accent of blue. Blue Venetian glass tile walls were used as a backdrop for the altar and a soft shade of blue was used in the interior to accent the natural colors of the brick, wood, glass, and terrazzo floors. The exterior and interior architecture is similar in proportion between a beautiful pink brick and the amber cathedral glass arranged with the accent in the vertical dimension.

Our Lady Queen of MartyrsWhile the church was being built our parishioners attended Mass at Central Catholic High School (now Saint Thomas Aquinas High School). The parish began with 1,100 families that quickly grew to 3,000 families. Father Jamar J. Genovar took up residences at 1130 SW 27 Avenue when he became the first Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church. The front half of the duplex served as parish office and the back half as the residence.

In January 1958, additional property was purchased for building a cafeteria complex, capable of setting 1,100 peoples and a school consisting of eight classrooms. This complex was completed in six months and at a cost of $250,000.

Our Lady Queen of MartyrsThe church had its first baptism; baptisms were held twice a month. Father John Missioner from Waterboro, S.C. started the first Indian and Negro Mission. The Men’s Club and Ladies Guilds were started. The church newsletter was started. The first CCD classes were held for public school children, two hundred eight-one students registered. The first marriages were celebrated (William Smith – Arlene Reidel and George Rusnak – Wanda Robbins). The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul was formed. A Youth Association for 13-18 years old was formed. The Church started its first student and adult choir. A Boy and Girl’s Scout Groups were formed in the church.

Our Lady Queen of MartyrsIn 1959, ground breaking began for the building of a convent for the Saint Adrian Dominican Sisters and an additional eight classrooms. The convent would be the largest parochial convent in South Florida. In November 1959, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen officiated at the blessing of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Convent.

On March 16, 1969, Monsignor O’Looney broke ground for the new administration building, which was completed in 1971. Two years later, in 1973, the living quarters for the priests were added to the administration building. On June 2, 1974, parking spaces on the east side of the church and school were completed.