ABOVE IMAGE: Community plant sale at Saint James Cathedral Community LIfe Center in downtown Orlando.
Photo from Saint James Cathedral Holiday Boutique in downtown Orlando.
In 1978, preparing for Christmas meant helping one’s neighbor for parishioners at St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.
Parishioners offered baked goods, crafts, home arts, and plants for sale at the Holiday Boutique to support Neighborhood Ministry.
Saint James Cathedral continues their service to our community with numerous parish and outreach programs.
In 2010-11 their St. Vincent de Paul Ministry assisted 2,789 neighbors in the Orlando area.
Picking strawberries in Plant City for charity comes natural to fourth generation Floridian Arline Conoley Benedetti. Her uncle, citrus grower E.B. Conoley, and now his son have been donating their oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit for the Citrus Bowl Parade for years.
While her husband, Vincent Benedetti, might joke that Arline ate more strawberries than she picked, the ever popular Strawberry Socials at St. James Cathedral were great fundraisers for the church and school. The chance to make your own strawberry shortcake with fresh picked Plant City strawberries delighted generations of parishioners.
Artist Arline Conoley Benedetti, mother of six, has spent a lifetime contributing her time and talents to the Orlando community planning church socials, creating crafts to raise money for ministries, and decorating charity galas for church and school benefits.
One of her fondest memories was when she was chosen to stage the gathering of 999 clergy at the Cherry Plaza just after the Orlando Diocese was created in 1968.
Her fundraising for St. James Neighborhood Ministry, raising ten thousand dollars with ten super sales, helped many people in the Orlando area, and earned her a position on the board of Bishop Moore High School. But, as she humbly shares, "I wasn't that kind of fundraiser."
Her connection to our community spans generations as noted by local history buffs. Her great grandmother was killed by an Indian at Fort Gatlin during the Seminole Indian War in 1838. Her maternal grandparents were "real pioneer types", the Hannigan Patrick's from the Orlo Vista area, who owned a lot of territory west of Orange Avenue. Her paternal grandparents were citrus growers in the Conway area. In addition to his work as a food inspector, her father, W.J. Conoley, was active in civic life and served on the Democratic Executive Committee of Orange County.
From pancake breakfasts to school committees, Arline and her husband WWII veteran Vincent Benedetti, have enjoyed generously contributing to our community through activities at St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando as they share in this excerpt from an oral history interview at St. James Cathedral on September 4, 2011.
When asked what role has St. James Cathedral played in your life? Arline responds, "It's kept us honest."