The origin of Holy Spirit Catholic Parish dates back to 1931 when the Most Reverend Edwin V. O’Hara, second Bishop
of Great Falls, established Holy Family Parish. Masses were celebrated at the Ursuline Academy, and later, as the parish grew, in the chapel at the Columbus Hospital. Finally, in December 1934, the first Mass was said at the newly constructed Holy Family Church on Central Avenue. A school was added next door to the church, and opened its doors September 1966.
With the growth of the Catholic Community on the east side of Great Falls, two more churches were built and parishes established. St Gerard’s Parish was created in 1944 and Saints Peter and Paul Parish in 1962.
In the early 1980s, Bishop Thomas Murphy realized the need for the many parishes in Great Falls to work together to provide the services and programs demanded by a changing and diverse Catholic community. In 1983 he designated Holy Family, St. Gerard and Sts. Peter and Paul Parishes as the “east-side cluster” in Great Falls, and the three communities began to work together to share ministries, personnel and leadership. Their schools were consolidated in 1985, preserving nearly 100 years of Catholic school education for the east end of the city.
During the 1990s the parishes further joined together to coordinate and expand religious education and sacramental preparation programs as the professional staff was merged. After the East-side Catholic Pastoral Council was formed to oversee the finances and facilities as well as the pastoral services of all three parishes, many began to see both the possibilities for ministry and the potential for service that could be achieved by a unified parish.
The weekend of November 28th/29th, 1998, the First Sunday of Advent, marked the end of one era and the beginning of another for the people of Holy Spirit Parish. At each of the Masses on those two days, Bishop Anthony Milone formally announced the closing of Holy Family, St. Gerard’s, and Sts. Peter and Paul Parishes and established Holy Spirit Parish as the new parish on the east-side of Great Falls.
In 1998, Bishop Milone accepted the parishes’ recommendation to be consolidated as one new parish, and the Building Oversight Committee began the arduous task of evaluating our own needs, as well as those of the greater Catholic community in Great Falls, to select a location for our new parish facilities. Having considered other possibilities, the Committee recommended that the parish purchase eight acres adjacent to the Sts. Peter and Paul facilities as the site for our new church and parish offices. Construction of the building began in July 2006. Holy Spirit Catholic Church with offices and hall was formally dedicated by retired Bishop Milone and the people of the parish on October 21, 2007. With seating for over 700 people, Holy Spirit Church anticipated the continued growth of our parish as the demographics of the Catholic community in Great Falls adapts to further consolidation and new challenges in the future. The next phase of our consolidation process will create a permanent campus for all our facilities and programs on the east side of the city.
The last two decades have reminded us that Christ’s Church is always in transition until we finally, each and together, arrive at the kingdom to come. We give praise and thanks to the Lord that we have made the journey together with love and concern. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and by God’s grace, we have been able to acknowledge our differences, forgive our offenses, reconcile our divisions and accept our limitations as members of the Body of Christ. We welcome any and all who would care to join us in this most exciting and rewarding pilgrimage of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.