In 1878, Jesuit priests traveled from St. Ludovice (St. Louis) church in Tampa to serve the scattered Catholic community in Fort Myers. On October 3 of that year, the first mission church, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, was erected.
In 1910, a church was built for $5,000 and named St. Francis Xavier.
In December, 1961, a new St. Francis Xavier church was built and dedicated. Father Thomas Anglim arrived at St. Francis Xavier in 1966. Since that time, he has nourished and witnessed the growth of the seeds of faith in Fort Myers.
St. Francis Xavier then, was first of all, a mission out of a Jesuit church in Tampa which was then in the diocese of St. Augustine. The present Jesuit church in Tampa is Sacred Heart (located downtown). Over the years, St. Francis, too, has had many missions. At one time, Boca Grande and Upseppa were St. Francis missions. Boca Grande is currently under St. Charles parish in Port Charlotte. Sanibel and Captiva, originally mission outposts, are presently one parish called St. Isabel. Indeed, Ascension Church itself was a mission of St. Francis until 1961 when it became a separate parish. St. Ann's in Naples also started out as a mission of St. Francis and later became a separate parish in 1951. LaBelle, too, was another mission of St. Francis in Fort Myers. For eight years Masses were said in a local movie theater there. In Immokalee, the Church of Our Lady of Guadaloupe became a parish of its own in the 1960's when it ceased to be a mission served by St. Francis.
Contrary to many people's opinion, St. Raphael in Lehigh Acres, St. Andrew's in Cape Coral as well as its mission, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Mission, in Pine Island, and St. Cecilia's in Fort Myers, were never missions out of St. Francis Xavier but started instead as parishes in their own right.
The time has now come for Catholics and their friends in North Fort Meyers to launch the next phase of expanding the church in Lee County. The seeds of faith sown so many years ago in St. Francis Xavier parish and which are now blowing northward will blossom into little flowers of faith in North Fort Myers as we establish a Catholic community gathering for worship in the Church of St. Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus.
St. Therese opened in September 2003 as a mission church associated with St. Francis Xavier Parish, Fr. Anglim was our Pastor till his retirement in 2004. On October 15th 2004 St. Therese seperated from St. Francis Xavier and Fr. Mario Kono was appointed as our Administrator and we remained as a mission church till April 4th 2011 when we became a Parish.