Fr. John Blum is the oldest of eight children and attended St. Patrick Parish & School in Largo. A graduate of Largo High School and St. Petersburg Junior College, Fr. Blum studied as a seminarian for the Diocese of St. Petersburg at St. John Vianney College Seminary (Miami) and St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary (Boynton Beach). He was ordained a priest on May 18, 1996 at the Cathedral of St. Jude. Fr. Blum’s pastoral assignments include serving as a Parochial Vicar at St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish, Tarpon Springs (1996–1999), Christ the King Parish, Tampa (1999–2002) and St. Frances Cabrini Parish, Spring Hill (2002–2007). Fr. Blum was appointed Pastor of St. John Vianney Parish, St. Pete Beach, on July 1, 2007.
Father Justin, the oldest of four children, was born and raised in Virginia. He graduated from a small state college in Virginia with a degree in political science. Before joining the Mercedarian Friars, he worked for the Social Security Administration and interned for a prominent lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. Father Justin joined the Mercedarian Friars in 2004 and was ordained a priest in 2010.
He previously served as the Catholic chaplain in a large inner-city hospital in Cleveland, Ohio and as parochial vicar for two rural parishes in western New York.
Dcn. Joe Grote is one of 11 children (10 boys and one girl). He attended St. Agnes Elementary School and graduated from Covington Catholic High School, Covington, KY. He attended college at Xavier University in Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati. He and Kathleen have been married for 52 years and have been blessed with three children, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild. After a career in sales and sales management and owner of his own retail business, he went to work for St. Raphael Parish as Operations Manager. During that time he entered in the Diaconate for the Diocese of St. Petersburg and was ordained with the first class of deacons in May of 1987. After serving at St. Raphael Parish for more than 20 years, Dcn. Joe was hired as the Director of Family Life for the Diocese. After retiring, he was assigned to St. John Vianney Parish in St. Pete Beach, in 2006.
Dcn. Richard Santello is a native of New Haven, CT. He and his wife, Angela, were married on November 21, 1959 and is the father of four children and three grandchildren. He served in the U.S. Navy and then completed his education in business and finance, working as a financial planner for more than 20 years. After his studies at St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, CT, he was ordained to Diaconate on October 31, 1976 by the late Most Rev. John F. Whalen, Archbishop of Hartford.
Prior to moving to Florida and being assigned to St. John Vianney Parish, he served in 10 parishes
in the Archdiocese of Hartford, having been the co-founder of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, Rocky Hill, CT. He also served as the Director for Deacons, Archdiocese of Hartford, president of the National Association of Diaconate Directors (NADD), a consultant to the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on the Diaconate, the Board of the International Diaconate Center (IDC/IDZ) Rottenburg, Germany. He was an instructor of Liturgy and Homiletics for Diaconate Formation, and vice-president of the National Catholic Bereavement Association (NCBA)
Dcn. Santello and his wife have ministered to bereaved parents for more than 25 years founding several bereaved parents’ groups including Compassionate Friends. He presently serves on the Advisory Committee for the Diaconate, Diocese of St. Petersburg.