About our Church
Holy Redeemer Parish: 1901 to Present
The Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, formerly known as the Divine Redeemer Home, is located at Vargas, Nevada and Gevers streets, in San Antonio, Texas. In the beginning, Holy Redeemer was founded as a home for aged, needy and orphaned Negroes. Later on, the name was changed to Holy Redeemer Church. Sometime in the early part of February 1901, the Rev. A.J. Dumolin, pastor of St. Peter Claver – a church for colored people, came to see a friend at South Heights to inquire as to the possibility of securing a ground site to inaugurate or establish a “Work of Charity” facility. Knowing that the diocese held and owned four (4) lots in the east end of San Antonio between Vargas and Gevers streets, this friend informed Rev. R. Dumolin about the lots and recommended that he see Bishop Forest about securing them. Father Dumolin did confer with the Bishop and was granted conditional consent for the “Work of Charity” to begin at that site. On February 22, Fr. Dumolin went to the site, blessed it and the work to be done in God's name, and prayed for direction and success. In the afternoon, the first building materials were ordered. April 21, 1901, three main buildings were completed. On November 7, the altar, that was donated, was delivered to the Divine Redeemer Home. Arrangements were made to have Holy Mass celebrated on the coming Thanksgiving Day. An organ was borrowed and an impromptu choir was organized. On December 25th a beautiful service was held and attendance was good.
After using Divine Redeemer Home as an old folks' home, it wa s changed to a day school in September 1906. There were three different Protestant lay teachers who served until 1913. The first story of the present brick Education Center was built in the year 1911. There was one lay teacher who was assisted by a nearby neighborhood. In 1913, two of the Holy Ghost Sisters arrived. The next year Fr. Welbers discussed the teaching situation with Bishop Shaw. Bishop had come to San Antonio in 1910 to assess the situation and the establishment of a school. Fr. Welbers was directed to bring in the Sisters of the Holy Family to teach, replacing the Sisters of the Holy Ghost. The Sisters of the Holy Ghost had taught in the school and lived in a two-story house on the west side of Vargas Street, opposite the school. The second story of the present Education Center was built in 1922.
Through the years, many other events occurred at Holy Redeemer. In 1950, the Holy Redeemer Credit Union was founded. In 1960, construction of a new convent was started. In 1966, a new parish hall was dedicated. In 1968, the parish school closed and the Josephite Fathers withdrew from the parish after 64 years of service. Shortly afterwards, a community clinic was started and staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1979, Holy Redeemer was reinstated as a parish and remains the only predominantly African American Catholic Church in San Antonio. In 1991, at the behest of Velma Harrison, a parishioner, Holy Redeemer held its first Mardi Gras celebration; which continues today with the 18th annual celebration on February 20, 2009. In April, 1999, Rev. Fr. Celestin Tongotani became the Pastor of Holy Redeemer. Father Celestin's untimely death in October 2000, left the parish without an assigned pastor. Deacon Thomas St. C. White was appointed as the Pastoral Administrator and served as the spiritual leader until July 2002, when Fr. Bruce B. Schultz was appointed as Pastor of Holy Redeemer.
On Palm Sunday, April 2006, another milestone was reached in the history of the Holy Redeemer Parish. The parishioners moved into the long awaited new sanctuary and had a procession inside to the tune of “Get Your House in Order.” The new sanctuary was formally dedicated by Archbishop Jose' Gomez on May 3, 2006. In October 2007, Fr. Bruce Schultz was reassigned and once again Holy Redeemer was without a pastor. In January 2008, it was announced that Fr. Kevin Fausz would be assigned as the pastor of Holy Redeemer. Again, the Archbishop came to Holy Redeemer for the pastor's formal installation ceremony.