We, the Holy Spirit Catholic Family, celebrate the love of God in our communities by engaging in Evangelization, Worship and Stewardship.
In July 1955 Father Roland Inkel called an organizational meeting of all interested St. John parishioners living in the area from Pleasant Grove westward to Innerarity Point to discuss the possibility of starting a mission church.
Mass was celebrated that same month for these parishioners in a dance hall donated free of charge by Ignatius Quina. About twenty-eight families attended. A table from the club served as an altar and each family supplied their own pads for kneeling.
In 1956, Bishop Thomas J. Toolen purchased the 12 acre site where the present church is located on Gulf Beach Highway for $11,000. On April 16, 1967, the Mission became a reality and Bishop Joseph G. Vath presided at the blessing and dedication of the new facility which was known as the Church of the Holy Spirit. The cost of the church and attached meeting rooms was $50,000 and the church seating capacity was 220.
Holy Spirit became an independent parish when Bishop Rene Gracida appointed Father James Smith to be its pastor in June 1976. Monsignor James Amos was the pastor from 1978 to 1981. During this time the rectory was built at a cost of $49,500.
The first deacon of Holy Spirit was Father Steven O’Connor who came to the parish in the summer of 1977. In the summer of 1980, the church welcomed its second deacon, Father James Flaherty, who came to the Diocese from New York and was ordained in December 1980.
Monsignor James Gallagher was pastor from January 1981 and during this time the parish grew. Three deacons were ordained to serve the parish in 1981 and a parish hall was added in 1986. Upon his retirement on August 1, 1989 he remained at Holy Spirit as Pastor Emeritus until his death on February 8, 2000. He was succeeded by Monsignor James Amos until his death on April 14, 2002. Monsignor James Flaherty was assigned as pastor of Holy Spirit Parish.
On February 15, 1997, fire destroyed 80% of the church. The parish continued weekend services and Religious Education classes at Jim Bailey Middle School. A chapel, meeting room and office were outfitted in the remains of the old building. Plans to build were in progress before the fire, so construction went ahead and the first Mass in the new church was celebrated on April 23, 1998. It was designed with seating for 500.
In 1999, a Family Life Center was built. Dedicated on August 8th, it has seen extensive use in various church activities including educational classes, recreation and social gatherings.
On September 16, 2004, category 3 Hurricane Ivan made landfall. Gulf water reached across Gulf Beach Highway into the parking lot of Holy Spirit Church causing damage to the many parish buildings. Most families in the parish had damage to their houses and many lost their homes. Repairs were made, and the parish continued to grow under the leadership of Monsignor Flaherty until he was reassigned in January 2012 when Father James Valenzuela was assigned as parish Administrator.
In July 2013, Father Thomas S. Collins was assigned to Holy Spirit parish where he currently remains. In his first year with us, we have added the playground and pavilion area as well as improved drainage. Holy Spirit Parish is now a community of over 500 households. We are a parish Fully Alive! where old and young alike meet to praise and worship our Lord.
The design developed for the chancel window for the Catholic Church of the Holy Spirit was meant to be sensitive to two criteria; architecture and liturgy. It depicts in an abstract style, the theme of the Holy Spirit with the inclusion of the other entities of the Trinity. The window forms bring to mind the descent of the Holy Spirit into the church.
Abstract art demands skill and talent from the artist, but it also requires effort from the viewer to comprehend. This, the artist who works abstractly has a partner, the viewer. The viewer’s conclusion may change depending on their emotional and psychological state as well as on environmental conditions.
One of the symbolic depictions traditional iconographers use for the Trinity incorporates a hand (God the Father), a face or body (the Son), and a dove (the Holy Spirit). In viewing the Holy Spirit window, the viewer might see the Hand of God coming down from the top of the window. Some of the forms of the Hand then morph to become parts of the descending Holy Spirit (separate but equal entities). There is only one dove, but it can be perceived as in motion – actually entering the church. Additional forms can be interpreted as flames or blood, references to the Pentecost and to the sacrifice of Christ. Still other forms can be interpreted as water and wine and heads and shafts of heat, references to the Eucharist.
The glass selected for the window is all German mouth-blown glass. Some is translucent (Opak) and some is transparent. This provides visual depth. Opak glass captures and disperses light while helping to control glare. Because of these qualities, the design can be read from the exterior of the church during the day and displays from the outside at night when the interior is lighted.
The architect developed a unique and exciting worship space for the Holy Spirit family and we are grateful to the committee for allowing us to create the window.
J. Piercey Studios, Inc.