June 9, 2006
In September 1971, Catholics from the Duncanville area led by Susan Lichtenwalter, began investigating the possibility of establishing a parish to serve the people of Southwest Dallas County, particularly Duncanville, DeSoto and Cedar Hill. The parish census at St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Oak Cliff revealed 170 Catholic families in Duncanville, 28 from DeSoto and 11 from Cedar Hill. A meeting on December 9, 1971, lead to the formation of a Steering Committee to establish a local parish. The first members of that community were Jim McDonald, Bob Hart, Ed Purcell, John Cole, Anne Hubener, and Susan Lichtenwalter.
Msgr. Erbrick from St. Elizabeth's nurtured the community that would become Holy Spirit. First, in-home CCD classes were established, and mass was celebrated in Central Elementary School on Sunday, September 3, 1972, leading to the establishment of St. Elizabeth's Mission of Duncanville, DeSoto, and Cedar Hill. The first CCD program had a total enrollment of 178 children. In 1973, the mission was named "Holy Spirit." Within six months, on June 16, 1974, Pentecost Sunday, a parish, under the leadership of Fr, Bob Sykora, the founding pastor, was established.
Plans were underway for a home for the new community. As the parish grew, it became obvious that they could not celebrate mass in schools for ever.
Msgr. Robert Johnson oversaw building of the new church. The work was done by families like the Prasifkas who did much of the labor themselves, including the courtyard and bells.
Formal dedication took place on June 3, Pentecost Sunday, 1979. The ceremony began with music in the church and was followed by the blessing and dedication Mass. An open house and presentation followed in the narthex.
Holy Spirit became an innovative and vibrant community. Ministers dedicated themselves to helping the Word of God penetrate and find a dwelling in the hearts of the people. Family catechesis happened through at-home clusters of parents and children coming together to understand their faith. Parish zones were established as an early form of community building and a ministry to particular neighborhoods, a practice that has widely been adopted by other parishes. Holy Spirit parish has always been known for vibrant liturgy and has once again been exploring ways to build on the wonderful foundation of catechesis with outreach. The Youth Ministry Federation has recognized Holy Spirit as one of the top fifteen parishes in the nation and the National Catholic Education Association has awarded Holy Spirit the Mustard Seed Award.
Throughout the early 1980's, Holy Spirit continued to grow and two new shepherds, Fr. Jerry Duesman encouraged new ways to minister, establishing Adult & Family Ministry. He also encouraged the development of Zones, or small base communities and led the construction of the Community Center building. Holy Spirit had a wonderful new addition to its facilities and a home to its growing list of activities.
In the late 80's and 90's Fr. Tom Cloherty became pastor of Holy Spirit. Known for his warmth and pastoral spirit, Fr. Tom helped bring the community closer together. Fr. Tom's steady hand helped the community weather storms and served as a beacon of hope and source of strength. He was succeeded by Fr. Mike Barone who greatly loved the liturgy and once more stressed its importance to the community during his time with us.
Holy Spirit celebrated its Twenty-fifth Anniversary in 1999 and will celebrate its 40th Anniversary in 2014. A big part of the 25th Anniversary celebration was the burning of the parish note. Many of the Founding Members of Holy Spirit came back to celebrate with us. Founding members had special roles in the Celebration mass, and the first couple to be married at Holy Spirit brought up the gifts.
New challenges await Holy Spirit for the coming years. But our short history has shown us that the Spirit leads, and leads rather well!
For your information, we have relics of five saints on our altar here at Holy Spirit:
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (August 28, 1774 to January 4, 1821): She founded the American Catholic School system. First native-born American saint, canonized in 1975, her feast day is January 4.
Saint Maria Goretti (October 16, 1890 to June 6, 1902): She was a virgin and martyr, canonized in 1950, and she is the patron of youth and teenage girls. Her feast day is June 6.
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (July 15, 1850 to December 22, 1917): Mother Cabrini was the first U.S. Citizen to be canonized, which happened in 1946. She is the patron of immigrants and her feast day is November 13.
Saint Robert Bellarmine (October 4, 1542 to September 17, 1621) He was a bishop and a doctor, canonized in 1930. He is the patron of catechists and catechumens. His feast day is September 17.
Saint John Mary Vianney (May 8, 1786 to August 4, 1859): He was a priest, canonized in 1925. He is the patron of parish priests and his feast day is August 4.