Most Holy Redeemer Parish was established in November of 1900 to serve the people living in Eureka Valley, then largely an Irish, Italian and German population. The church was first dedicated on Christmas Day, 1901. The facilities were expanded over time with the addition of a rectory, school and convent. As demographics and needs in the area have changed, the parish has continued to evolve.
From 1980 until recently, the cafeteria had been home to the Diamond Senior Center (now called Castro Senior Center). The Senior Center has since moved to Ellard Hall. The M.H.R. AIDS Support Group was established in 1985 and until recently had offices in a parish-owned flat on 18th Street. The support group has since relocated to the rectory. In 1986, the convent became the Coming Home Hospice, a care facility for the terminally ill, with a focus on persons dying from AIDS-related illnesses. This space is currently leased to California Pacific for use as a hospice for people with cancer. The Sisters of Charity, B.V.M. staffed the parish school from 1925 to 1979. In 1982, the school building was leased to Live Oak School, a private school operating grades K through 8. Currently, the school and was leased to the Society of Friends (Quakers) as a private Friends elementary school. The school now houses Marin Preparatory Academy, an private K-8 school. The rectory houses the clergy of the parish and serves as office space for the parish staff.
In November, 2004, MHR concluded a lengthy self-study and a four-month parish renewal program, called PAR (Parish Assessment and Renewal) process, which was coordinated by Sr. Peg Bishop and Fr. Tom Sweetser, of PEP Pastoral Consultants, of Milwaukee, WI. This self-study and renewal process reflects the parish’s desire to grow and to meet the needs of its parishioners and friends for the next 100 years and beyond.
The history of MHR has been the subject of many news and magazine articles and is also the focus of Gays and Grays: The Story of the Gay Community at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish. Fr. Donal Godfrey, SJ, wrote Gays and Grays which tells the story of the life of Most Holy Redeemer parish. The book is the popularized version of Fr. Godfrey’s dissertation, and his writing is superb. It starts with the rise — and almost fall of the parish — in a historical exposé.
The book goes on to tell the wonderful story on how the parish eventually started dealing with the AIDS crisis, literally on its door-step. It also tells the stories of the women and men, clergy and laity, that have helped create this vibrant and inclusive parish.