In 1980, people living in the area served by Prince of Peace Catholic Community received the news that a new parish would be established in Cypress and the surrounding area. Rev. George Sheltz, named to be the new pastor, met with key ministers living in the new boundaries to begin the process of making this dream a reality. To choose a name for the new parish, it was decided that if this is Christ's church - it should be named after Him. The name Christ the Redeemer was recommended and submitted to the Bishop for confirmation.
Before CtR was built, Mass was celebrated at Millsap Elementary School, lovingly referred to as "St. Millsap." Each Friday afternoon, volunteers carried all necessities for Mass to Millsap, set up chairs in the cafeteria with the altar on the stage for Sunday Mass. Then, after the last mass each Sunday, volunteers took down all the chairs and altar, reset the tables for school the next day, and carried all the necessities back to the store front - quite an undertaking, but everyone pulled together. Thus, the true spirit of Christ the Redeemer was born.
Store front space had been rented in an old Gerland’s shopping center at Huffmeister and Fleur-de-lis to be used for daily Mass, office space, religious education classes, meetings, youth activities, and dances. The space soon limited what could be accomplished.
As construction of the church started, two double trailers were placed on the Church property. During the day these served as parish offices and a place to house the social services which were soon to become Cypress Assistance Ministries; and in the evening, it was quite a sight to behold as every available nook and cranny, even the hallway, were used for religious education classes for our growing parish. At this time two lots were purchased in the Bonaire subdivision for a future rectory.
Our contemporary mission style church building and community center were completed in 1984 and officially dedicated on August 19, 1984. Fr. George's parents donated the altar for the church. It is made of different types of wood, one of them being cypress, in recognition of the area. The Stations of the Cross are also carved from cypress. The partial circles around each station become completed circles on the 12th, 13th, and 14th stations to symbolize that Jesus Christ thorough his death, burial, and resurrection completed our redemption. The large stained glass windows depicted village scenes from the time of Christ. In the day chapel, now the Adoration Chapel, the four seasons are depicted in the stained glass. The circular window above the chapel doorway symbolizes the Trinity - the circle represents the father's love, the cross, the redeeming love of the Son, and the flame, the active love of the Spirit.
In July of 1990, Fr. Dominic Peluse, SCJ, became our second pastor. Pressed by the need for more space, store fronts behind Hartz's Chicken were leased. The offices and Cypress Assistance Ministries moved there from the trailers. In 1995, the office and Education Building were constructed with the help of a core group of parishioners and occupied by the parish staff. Cypress Assistance Ministries remained in the leased buildings. This gave much needed space for religious education, meetings and other activities. To meet the needs for future expansion, the land next to the church was purchased in 1998 and a temporary parking lot was built at the end of 2000.
July of 2001 marked the installation of our third pastor Fr. Leonard Elder, SCJ. The meditation garden in front of the church was built and the Parish Council was revived. Many ministries, including Welcoming Committee, Stewardship Committee and Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration were established and organized during his assignment to our parish.
In July 2004, Rev. Sean P. Horrigan was welcomed to the parish to continue to build and strengthen our faith and community. Fr. Sean facilitated a master plan survey of the parishioners to determine what the greatest need was at the parish. The parishioners overwhelmingly responded that an onsite rectory and new sanctuary should be the top priorities. In 2006 a capital campaign began to make those needs a reality. The rectory was completed on the property in Bonaire, purchased back in 1984, and completed in August of 2007. Construction on the new church began on 07/07/07. The parish continued its Spanish mission style into the new church.
Our new sanctuary was dedicated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and all current and former priests on Nov. 16, 2008. Currently four stained glass rose windows adorn the north, south, east and west walls. A mosaic of the Triumphant Lamb crowns the dome’s interior.
In 2009 renovations were done on the "old church" to convert the space into a small chapel for daily Mass, small weddings and funerals, a permanent adoration chapel, an oratory, classrooms and storage space. In 2009, we also marked the arrival of more stained glass in the new sanctuary. Four large "Evangelist" windows were added depicting Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; as well as stained glass behind the statues of Mary and Joseph. In addition, the Community Center received a ‘face-lift’ with new paint, storage and updated restrooms.
The master plan survey indicated the need for more education space and Parish Hall. The need became an "emergency" status in 2010 as our Religious Education classes continued to expand. In 2011 another capital campaign was started to build a Parish Life Center. The Archdiocese began talks with the parish about adding a school.
Construction began in 2012 and the Parish Life Center, with new youth center, Parish Hall and library, was completed in 2013. Religious Education classes began in the new Education Building in the fall of 2013. Our "prep school," now the Genesis Early Childhood Program, for ages 2 – 4, expanded to five days a week, with programs that now include serving children aged 18 – 24 months.
In addition, the Archdiocese and our parish decided that a Catholic school was indeed be a part of parish life at Christ the Redeemer. Principal Betty Sierra was hired in 2013 to prepare for a fall 2014 opening of Christ the Redeemer Catholic School. The school planned on opening to just Pre-K through 3rd grade students, but the demand was so high that, after a survey to the parish community, parents voted and Fr. Sean and Sierra decided to include a 4th grade option for families. In its first year, the school had more than 175 students and included technological educational advances such as a tablet/device available to every child and interactive whiteboards in all classrooms. The Founding Families also chose the school mascot: the CtR Crusaders. In 2015-16, the school will take another leap and welcome 300+ students in grades Pre-K-6th. It will eventually go up to 8th grade. Religious Education will welcome more than 2,400 students in its program as well.
The now "old" Community Center hosts smaller gatherings, meetings and functions. The "old" classrooms in the Parish Office Building will receive a "make-over" to host the growing number of Adult Faith Formation programs.
In 2013, the sanctuary also saw the installation of more stained glass. Five windows depicting the Luminous Mysteries were added alongside the current "Evangelist" windows.
As our once small community continues to grow, so will our "simple country parish." God has blessed us with beautiful facilities for worship, education, and social functions. We now, in 2015, have more than 80+ ministries and 6,200 families. But, even more importantly, God has provided us with the warm and loving community who carry on the spirit of Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church.
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