San Pedro Center is located on 485 acres of protected Florida wetlands and forest. Located on Lake Howell in Winter Park, the site was purchased in the 1940’s and 50’s by Archbishop Joseph P. Hurley, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine. Archbishop Hurley had an uncanny ability to predict the growth patterns of the State of Florida. Nicknamed “ten-acre Joe” , Archbishop Hurley bought up key parcels of real estate all over the State with sites for future parishes in mind.
At first the San Pedro site was designated to be a Diocesan summer camp and rustic dorms and a main hall were built. When Fidel Castro came into power in the 1950’s, San Pedro’s camp was used for temporary housing for some of the first Cuban youngsters to come to Florida on the Pedro Pan refugee flights. >> View the full video of an interview with German Alvarez.
In the 1970’s, the second Bishop of Orlando, Thomas J. Grady, decided to make San Pedro a full center for retreats and spirituality. Six residential and meeting pod buildings were added to the site, plus an administration building. In 1979 Bishop Grady invited Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regular ( T.O.R.), to be the pastoral staff for San Pedro. The Friars provide a living, praying religious community on the site.
In the 1990’s the lovely, Mary, Mother of God Chapel was completed. A beautiful and serenely landscaped priests’ cemetery is located behind the Chapel. In 2005 hurricanes destroyed part of the camp-side resulting in the building of a new dormitory building and a food service/meeting building. The old main hall was renovated and is in constant use.
San Pedro Center serves the people, priests and parishes of the Diocese of Orlando and is a place, set apart, for human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral development. It also welcomes other groups of all faiths.