We, the Catholic Community of Our Saviour’s, believe that we are created by God as part of His family, that we are redeemed by Jesus Christ and called by Him to witness to His good news.
We commit ourselves to this as we gather to worship joyfully to proclaim His word through our teaching ministries, and to extend His love through Christian concern for the needy and those marginalized.
We dedicate ourselves to live the Beatitudes by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.
A Stewardship Parish
“Whatever gift each of you may have received, use it in service to one another, like good stewards, dispensing the grace of God in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
Our Saviour’s Catholic Community and each of it’s ministries strive to fulfill our diverse missions through the practice and pursuit of stewardship.
Stewardship, in its simplest form, acknowledges that all that we have and all that we are, comes from God. These gifts from God are provided to us as good stewards to use wisely, justly, and in gratitude. Each of us must place our own gifts, through the parish and through our ministries, at the service of one another and of those in need.
We define "a steward" as one…
- Who receives God’s gifts gratefully.
- Who cultivates and tends to those gifts in a responsible manner.
- Who shares those gifts with all in justice and love.
- Who returns gifts to the Lord with increase.
The Church of Our Saviour was born as a mission church of Saint Mary’s in Rockledge. As a mother church to us, we acknowledge her with true gratefulness. She nurtured us in our fetal stages so that our birth would be a blessed event to all.
Her pastor, The Reverend Charles W. Spellman, looked after us and taught us to walk on our own. In the beginning, each step we took was small but important to our growth and development.
Today we stand tall and look back into our history over the past 25 years of service and dedication to our community. Our youthful roots took hold as we graduated to a new mature establishment of strength and knowledge so that our future could age with a healthy spirit of Christ, Our Saviour, inside each of us.
“THE COST IS NOT IN BUILDING…BUT IN FAILING TO BUILD”…was our motto back then. Did you ever attend Mass in a bowling alley? If you were in Cocoa Beach on a Sunday 28 years ago, chances are you did. As the Space Program began to grow and many Catholic families moved to the undeveloped area, the playfulness of the ocean and its beaches was truly a nice way to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon. After, of course, stopping by Jake’s Bowling Alley, which soon acquired the Sunday Morning title of “Saint Jake’s by the Sea”. Your thoughts were probably distracted by the familiar signs sporting the best of beers. The concrete floor was hard on the knees – a good reason to give generously to the second collection. As you left, you were probably looking forward to the day you would be sitting in a provisional church.
The first Mass ever celebrated in Cocoa Beach was on December 16, 1956 in the Minella Building, now known as Ramon’s Restaurant. Then in January of 57′ the service was moved across the street to Jake’s, now the Beach Bowl.
After a successful fund drive, our church became a reality. Our first Mass was said during the construction of our unfinished church on July 12, 1959. Soon after, a stone, temporary church with seating capacity of 500, was completed. But, not without its share of sorrow. A $10,000 fire hit the newly constructed church on the morning of September 22, 1959. The gas heating system was apparently the cause of the blaze according to the Fire Commissioner, Tom O’Connor, a fellow parishioner. But with the grace of the Lord, the facility was repaired and the new church was dedicated on January 24, 1960. “LET THE CHILDREN COME TO ME AND DO NOT HINDER THEM”…Mark 10 v 14.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) was taught in four homes until the church was completed, then in the church until the school was built. Miss Grace Young became president of the organization and is still active in the parish. Father Spellman stressed the goal of effective religious instruction; to save souls. He said, “The desirability of teamwork between priest, sisters and the laity, supplies motivation when lay apostles become discouraged.” Mrs. Pat Englehart is currently the Director of Religious Education.
In 1962, a school was in the process of being built and staffed by Sisters of Mercy from Lemerick, Ireland. Their residence remained a rented house until a convent could be constructed for them. The manner of living was somewhat different in Florida compared to their motherhouse in Ireland, and the convergence that took place was not one-sided. Until this day, a little bit of Irish brogue come out of all of us.
On September 13, 1963, Our Saviour’s became a parish. The Most Rev. Joseph P. Hurley, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Augustine named Father Spellman to be our first pastor. Rev. Albert Lemieux, also of St. Mary’s was to be his assistant. There were about 850 parishioners from the area between Cape Canaveral and Patrick Air Force Base, including Merritt Island.
Sister May Salome, became principal of Our Saviour’s School. A crucifix was placed in each classroom. The female students wore red plaid uniforms and the boys wore white shirts…a few actually remained white by the close of the day. Faculty members were Mrs. R. Winters, Kindergarten: Sister Mary Christopher, First Grade; Sister Salome, Second Grade; Mrs. M. Kohly, Third Grade; Mrs. J. B. Karp, Fourth Grade; Sister Mary Domitilla, Fifth Grade; Mrs. R. F. Pariseau, Sixth Grade; and Mrs. J. Fahning, Kindergarten Assistant and Music.
As with most schools, sports were to be shared by all. We had our cheerleaders, along with our touch football players. When St. Mary’s was our opponent, Father Spellman felt compelled to root for both teams. Sister Salome was very agile at catching balls donated, along with other athletic equipment, to the school.
In April, 1964, Nerva Casuccio was inaugurated as the first president of the first school government of Our Saviour’s School. In 1965, many parishioners remember turning on the porch lights of their homes so the students could pick up the stamps collected for the new school bus. Yes, our school was growing and that’s not all. Besides the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, the parish was soon to have other organizations and societies within its walls. Today we house a great many more organizations within our community, all run and organized by ourselves for ourselves to fit the many needs and different ways of professing our faith.
The area in which we are located was quickly expanding. Brevard County’s population had blossomed more than 50% in 1964 than the 1960 census figure. It was no wonder that in June of 1964 the parish limits were divided and Merritt Island was to have its own Church Community.
Father Spellman said goodbye to 50% of his parishioners and also to his assistant of 6 years, Father Lemieux. With the split between the Island and the Beaches, the revenues also were divided. fundraisers were going on within the community. A convent for our sisters was still not a reality.
On February 25, 1965, the Lord called and Father Spellman passed away in his sleep. His eulogy was given by Monsignor Cummings: “The work that he gave in this portion of God’s vineyard does not stop at this moment. His work continues in the lives of these children and all of you, my dear people,” he said. Continue it did…Father James F. Herlihy took charge. Until August 1, 1965, when Father Vincent E. Smith became our new pastor. The Sisters moved into their long awaited convent, a home of devotion.
We, at Our Saviour’s considered ourselves a strong family back then, much like we all feel today. Different people, Priests, Sisters, Laity, yet we feel the same. The following is a list of the names of the original supporters of our church as of April, 1960…who attended Mass at St. Jakes by the Sea…and are still parishioners today: M/M J. Aiello, Carrie Barbour, M/M C. L. Bleichner, Jean Butler, M/M R. L. Cason, John Cunningham, Simone Cyr, M/M J. Danis, M/M R. Dillard, M/M J. V. Doyle, M/M R. Galloway, M/M R. Gay, M/M T. Goldcamp, M/M R. Gray, Mildred Habib, M/M C. Hannon, Ann Helsper, M/M F. Hoog, M/M A. Hosemann, M/M H. Jones, M/M J. Kabboord, Lawrence Kelly, Mrs. L. P. Kelly, M/M Frank Kennedy, Ann Juchta, Chuck Kuh, Mary Lacouture, Ruth McAllister, M/M D. Mazza, M/M F. Mohme, John Neilon, M/M C. Norris, M/M T. J. O’Connor, M/M T. Olkowski, Mrs. L. Pierce, M/M T. Scanlon, M/M R. Schroer, M/M R. Smith, M/M Soukup, M/M B. W. Sprow, A. J. Taiani, R. Thurm, M/M E. Tyzenhouse, J. Vonthron, Mrs. V. F. Whitehead, M/M H. K. Widick, M/M J. Yasecko, Grace Young, R. Zehr…God Bless each one. They should feel proud to be living cornerstones of our wonderful church. “WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED IN MY NAME, THERE AM I IN THEIR MIDST”…Mt 18 v 20.
The Space Program was booming. Cocoa Beach was listed as the place to live. The astronauts ran on our beaches and attended our services. The parish was functioning nicely.
Father Smith asked to leave Our Saviour’s June 6, 1970. It seems that he was not the only one. The Space Activities came to an unusual halt. House went up for sale. Jobs were scarce. Most parishioners left the area very downhearted and with their house unsold, took a loss by handing them over to the FHA.
Father Bronis P. Benesevich was to become the new pastor. He remained for two years and on March 11, 1972, Father Gerald P. Grogan became pastor. The parish continued changing. Retired citizens discovered the area. Many homes were available for purchase. The weather was far superior to the cold of the North. They became our winter residents and we welcomed them with open arms.
It wasn’t displeasing when so many familiar faces returned. Companies such as Boeing and IBM were expanding in the area again. Couples and their children looked forward to returning to Brevard. The beaches, the church, the weather, everything smiled at them once more. Also to return was Father Richard M. Walsh. He had been an assistant priest to Father Smith. On June 28, 1975, he became the new pastor at Our Saviour’s.
In the next few years, a new challenge was in store for the parish. Our present structure was overburdened. The church was too small to accommodate the increasing number of people attending our liturgy, especially during the winter months. Our new parish center was built and served as a nice facility for many parish activities. Now we were ready to begin the contiguous stage of our building program – expansion and remodeling of our church.
“MAKE SACRIFICE THE MEASURE OF YOUR GIFTS”…this these was to be emphasized repeatedly during the fund drive. Campaign solicitors called on our homes. Contributors could be listed on an honor roll as Patrons, Benefactors, Sponsors, Friends, depending on the amounts of their generous gift. No pledge was looked upon as too small. A 10% tithe was suggested.
Our school had served as a focal point for many activities involving adults as well as our young people. It too needed some additions. Our goal was to collect a minimum of $400,000. It was not the easiest time in our history. To step foot on parish grounds was costly in those days. All in all, it ran smoothly and everyone felt the need to give.
Mass was held in the Parish Center during the many months it took to renovate our church. The first Mass in our new facility was said in March, 1981 and on October 11, 1981 the Most Reverend Thomas J. Grady, D.D., Bishop of Orlando, dedicated the Church of Our Saviour. “UNLESS THE LORD BUILD THE HOUSE, THEY LABOR IN VAIN WHO BUILD IT”…Psalm 127
To walk into the church for the first time leaves you with he feeling of peace within its pleasant surroundings. The stone wall that is a projecting point for the altar is magnificent. The Lord’s table is a fine sculpture in itself. The ceiling is fitted high with wood. The burnt orange carpet makes for a quiet Mass along with a special soundproof nursery in the back. The lighting is not to be overlooked, especially when the natural sunlight transcends through the beautiful stained glass windows which were designed and constructed by Trilby Wallace. The pews surround the altar in such a fashion that everyone feels part of the service no matter where they sit. Special areas are available for the handicapped in wheelchairs. During the winter months when all our residents are here, the built-in dividers open up the back half of the church.
The school was to have a facelift over the next few years. The parking lot was enlarged in the front and back of the buildings. Fans and air conditioning units were installed. Each classroom features a carpeted floor and the walls all received fresh paint. The new outside laboratories between the parish center and the school, near the playground, are very accommodating. The picnic tables are not only for the children, but also make for a social gathering after the ten o’clock mass.
The annual Parish Fair, the highlight of the fall season, has become a major community event attracting people from all over Brevard. the Fair not only makes money for our parish; but all the community working together is so richly rewarding in itself.
Father Walsh was with Our Saviour’s for 10 years. If you look closely, you can notice a similar resemblance to him, without the beard, in one of the windows that drape our altar. His work will be remembered just as he seemed to remember a person’s name once he heard it. Our parish became a little greener from Father Walsh. He Irish humor brought much laughter. We say good-bye to him with the knowledge that wherever he goes, he will build a strong community.
The following priests and sisters served our parish throughout these past 25 years:
Rev. Charles Spellman, Pastor 1-24-56/2-25-65; Rev. Albert F. Lemieux, Rev. James Bonnen, Rev. James F. Herlihy, Pastor 3-12-65/8-10-65; Rev. Vincent E. Smith, Pastor 8-10-65/6-6-70; Rev. Richard M. Walsh, Rev. Edgar LaRose, Rev. Bronis Benesevich, Pastor 6-6-70/3-11-72: Rev. Sean Shine, Rev. Gerald Grogan, Pastor 3-11-72/3-11-75; Rev. John S. Murray, Rev. Paul B. Rankin, C.S.C., Rev. Richard M. Walsh, Pastor 6-28-75/4-85; Rev. Fred Ruse, Rev. Paul Henry, Rev. John Giel, Rev. Frank Gartland, Rev. Robert Garafalo.
Sr. Salome Ry
Standing L to R:
Mrs. Paul Nied, Mrs. Jack Ott, Fr. Spellman, Ms. Grace Young
an, Principal 1962-1966; Sr. Christopher Rouene, Sr. Domitilla Kayes, Sr. Helen Minogue, Sr. Anthony Morton, Sr. Agatha Ryan, Sr. Imaculee Grace, Sr. Clare Considine, Principal 1966-1968; Sr. Anthony Howard, Sr. Brendan O’Connor, Sr. Maura Flanagan, Sr. Teresa Hogan, Sr. Teresa Browne, Principal 1968-1979; Sr. Martina Fox, Sr. Pauline Stritch, Sr. Brendan O’Connor, Principal 1979-1981; Sr. Esther Hayes, Principal 1981-Present; Sr. Anna Quinlan, Sr. Mercy Lillis.
The many years of devotion that each has given to our parish continues through our many community clubs and activities that we share together. The following are just some of the organizations we donate our time to in supporting our parish:
Religious Education, Parish Council, Renew, Board of Education, Liturgy Committee, Catholic Women’s Club, F.E.L.T., Our Saviour’s Community Club, Annual Parish Fair, “Sonshine” (Music Group), Our Saviour’s Adult Choir, Ancient Order of the Hibernians, Knights of Columbus, Ladies Auxiliary of Knights of Columbus, Our Saviour’s Young Adults Club, Bingo, Parish Activity Center, Parish Ministries include: Neighborhood Apostolate, Alateen, Al-Anon, Ultreya Meetings, Prayer Chain, Spirit of Joy Christian Book Store, and Church Book Rack.
Many members of our parish donate their time not only in helping to keep our community groomed and healthy, but to share with others the example that Our Saviour’s taught us. Joyfully, we give thanks to Our Father for having made us worthy to share in His light.
“IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT”…AMEN