Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Community was established on June 8, 1981, by Bishop John L. Morkovsky to help eliminate the overcrowding of St. Bartholomew's Parish. Father Ralph G. Schmidt, Jr. was named our founding pastor. He celebrated Epiphany's first Masses June 19th and 20th in the Memorial Parkway Elementary School gymnasium. Approximately 100-150 families attended those 'standing room only' services. The following week many of the standees at the first Masses brought their own lawn chairs! As yet, the new parish did not have a name, so Father Ralph dubbed it "Our Lady of Memorial Parkway."
Coming Together As Church
On August 16, 1981, the parish had a name "Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Community". A house was purchased in the Nottingham Country subdivision, to serve as Father Ralph's residence as well as office space for his staff. Its garage was transformed into a chapel for daily Mass. Ministry groups soon began forming. Ladies Club provided the bread and wine for Masses. Crafters donated their time and talents to raise money for the church with a bazaar that November. CCE classes were taught in the hallways of the elementary school while Mass was being celebrated in the gym. Singers formed a choir and there was music for our first Midnight Mass. Even without a building, Epiphany was growing as a church.
Six months after its establishment, Epiphany began a building program to raise funds for the construction of a church and parish center. While waiting for the funds to be raised and building plans finished, ministries continued to grow and flourish. Epiphany's newly formed Men's Club had its own primary goal - the establishment of friendships and camaraderie among parishioners. The tradition of an annual Parish Family Picnic was begun in the fall of 1982 as one means of achieving that goal. The Ladies Club was called upon to fulfill many diverse needs. From altar care to baptismal bibs to bereavement support and meals for families, the Ladies performed many jobs that would eventually be taken over by Outreach Ministries. St. Vincent de Paul volunteers initially worked with their counterparts at St. Bartholomew's Parish to provide food for the needy. Quarterly wine and cheese socials welcomed newcomers to the parish and introduced them to parish organizations. In August of 1983, with an enrollment of about 800 families, construction began on the church and parish center. In March, however, the community's strength and faith would be tested.
Church Facility Razed
While parishioners were celebrating mass at Memorial Parkway Elementary School in the morning of March 4, 1984, a Molotov cocktail was tossed into the church building under construction nearby. The beepers of volunteer firemen in the congregation began to go off and they ran out to battle a fire that eventually consumed the church. A massive effort by the firemen saved the parish center, but all that remained intact of the church was its slab. The arsonist was never caught.
Determined to Rebuild
It would take more than a fire to quench the spirit of the Epiphany community. All were thankful that no lives had been lost in the fire and that the parish center was not damaged. Church construction began again on the original slab, and the parish center was soon completed. Determined to begin meeting on their new site, masses were moved to the parish center, now called the Family Center, on May 11, 1984 while construction continued on the church, Parish offices were also moved to the Family Center, and Father Ralph would soon take up residence in a new rectory on the site. That September, the third annual Parish Family Picnic was held, this time on church grounds. Epiphany now had a central meeting place, a place it could call its home.
On October 27, 1984, Epiphany of the Lord celebrated its first liturgy in the completed church. Altar furnishings were made possible by generous donations from parishioners. An artist had been commissioned to create several pieces, including Stations of the Cross for the outdoor garden, a statue of the Holy Family for the Chapel, and a papier mache figure depicting Christ's ascension into heaven for behind the altar. Bishop Morkovsky dedicated the church that November.
No longer necessary as a meeting place for Masses, the Family Center could now be used for its original purposes. It was designed as a large multi-purpose room with classrooms along either side. There was a small kitchen at one end of the hall and two offices at the other end. In the fall of 1984, the classrooms were used during the day by a new Christian preschool program, called Child's Play, started by some parishioners with small children who were looking for an alternative to secular preschool programs. At other times, the classrooms were available for Epiphany's CCE program. The kitchen and multi-purpose room made the Family Center perfect for social functions, including an annual New Year's Eve Dance sponsored by the Men's Club.
Our Second Pastor- "Renewal"
In October of 1985, change was in the air. The Diocese of Galveston-Houston had a new Bishop, Joseph A. Fiorenza, Father Schmidt was assigned to another parish, and Father T. Weyer became Epiphany's second pastor. Father Joseph Flanagan was named the assistant pastor. One of Father Weyer's first acts was to preside over a prayer service that began a five-semester Renew Program. From this program would eventually spring some of Epiphany's current ministries, including the Welcome Table, and one of the first Outreach programs, the Breadbasket Ministry. The parish office was beginning to get calls for assistance from its neighbors in the community. One need was for meals to be provided for shut-ins, the sick, and victims of severe accidents who were not necessarily Epiphany Parishioners. A few women in a Renew group began to respond to these calls when it became apparent there were no local agencies available to help. This group, now called the Breadbasket Ministry, grew into an organization that now includes 100 women who provide meals for many families in need throughout the year, as well as food for funeral receptions held in the Family Center.
With Father Weyer's arrival came several changes to the interior of the church. A donated Celtic cross replaced the controversial papier mache Christ. On this cross was placed a sculpture of the Risen Christ during Paschal and Ordinary Times (This sculpture how hangs in the new Chapel.), and a sculpture of the Crucified Christ during Lent. A wooden Epiphany Star was hung behind the altar during the Christmas season. The shape of this star was to become the official symbol of the parish. It began appearing on parish bulletins and was, for a time, part of the Family Center floor.
A group, whose financial support the parish could not do without, held its first function on Valentine's Day 1986. On that day, Bingo became a regular Friday night feature in the Family Center, and over the years has contributed over $800,000 to church coffers.
Knights of Columbus
By 1988 the parish had grown to 1600 families. On March 1st of that year, Epiphany formed its own Knights of Columbus Council. An organization that sponsors many fund-raising and community-building activities each year, the Epiphany Knights have been able to contribute as much as $15,000 a year to parish programs. Their level of activity, steady growth in membership, and support of Diocesan and state charities, has earned them the distinction of "Star Council" each year for the last five years.
Our Third Pastor- an Explosion of Growth
Monsignor Jack M. Dinkins became Epiphany's third pastor in August of 1990. The community had grown by leaps and bounds due to the explosion of homebuilding in the area. The Family Center was now bursting at the seams during CCE sessions. With classrooms full to capacity, the multi-purpose room was being used for the overflow. Additional space was desperately needed. Within two years, construction began on extensive additions to the Family Center, leaving it as it stands today. In the spring of 1993, looking ahead to future growth, Epiphany purchased the seven and one-half acres south of the church bordering Norwalk and Highland Knolls.
As Epiphany's membership grew, so did its community outreach. In January of 1992 Epiphany's Outreach Ministry was formally commissioned. From the response of a few women to the community's need for meals, this ministry has grown to a multi-level organization that provides direct care, support groups, pastoral care and community outreach through over 20 different parish and community groups.
By the fall of 1997, Epiphany had grown to 3000 registered families. Masses were "standing room only" once again, and it was apparent that the church itself now needed to be enlarged. In the spring of 1999, renovations began. As walls came down, sheets of plastic went up. Masses continued to be celebrated in the sanctuary. For several months, parishioners shared their worship space with construction equipment and drop cloths. They learned to maneuver with care through tight spaces created by temporary walls. It only became necessary to move Masses into the Family Center when the pews and carpeting needed to be replaced in the final two months of the project. By the time the dust had settled, the church had been expanded south to enlarge seating capacity in the main worship area from 900 to 1600, and north to form a new large chapel, with a beautifully renovated baptismal area in between.
Changing Forms of Worship
On the weekend of March 11-12, 2000 the community worshiped for the first time in its beautiful new sanctuary. By combining the original furnishings and decorations with new appointments in the scale of the now larger church, Epiphany truly had a welcoming home. The following week, representatives from all parish ministries joined with Bishop Fiorenza in the dedication of this new worship space. The altar was beautifully prepared, the music uplifting, and the rituals of the ceremony quite moving. The first Life Teen Mass was celebrated shortly afterwords. Seeing hundreds of teens gathered around the now circular altar during the Eucharistic Prayer, at the feet of the Risen Christ, it appears that the new church has grown perfectly to suit the needs of our changing forms of worship.
A New Activity Center
Epiphany celebrated its 20th anniversary on June 9, 2001 in an outdoor celebration held during a break in the torrential downpours of Tropical Storm Allison that had begun four days earlier. Volunteers that have coordinated many picnics, bazaars, and Family Feasts over the years, came together once again to prepare a celebration that included games, music, food, and a silent auction. The Men's Club and Boy Scouts did the set up for the event. The Knights of Columbus bought, prepared, and served the food. Mexico Mission youth and adults staffed the booths. Ladies Club members baked and assembled a large anniversary cake. Yet, even during this celebration plans were being made to help victims of the terrible flooding caused by the recent storms. While enjoying cake and conversation, parishioners remembered the good old days, and with excitement they talked about plans for the future. Due to the growth in the CCE program, and increased interest in adult education programs, it was necessary once again for Epiphany to expand its facilities. On the same day that we celebrated how far we had come in 20 years, we broke ground for a new Activity Center, with the hope that the ministries it will house will continue to grow and flourish.
Epiphany celebrates 25th anniversary
June 11, 2006
Pipe Organ dedication
November 9, 2008
Good Shepherd Chapel opens
New Outreach Center & St. Vincent de Paul Center opened
Reverend Tom Lam becomes fourth pastor of Epiphany
August 1, 2013
Stained Glass Window Symbols in Our Worship Space
West Window - Epiphanies of the Old Testament
The burning bush from which God spoke to Moses is the central image of this window. It is surrounded by the parted waters of the Red Sea through which God led the people of Israel as they escaped from the Egyptians. The twelve circles, each within an archaic Hebrew symbol, depict the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
East Window - Epiphanies of the New Testament
The cross, the central focus of this window, is an epiphany of the Good News of Jesus Christ, as well as a paradox of suffering and glory. The images surrounding the cross are taken from Revelation: the description of the new Jerusalem, jewels, lightning, the four winged creatures. The twelve circular forms at the circumference represent the Twelve Apostles.
The Crucifix and Risen Christ
The Risen Christ is suspended out from the cross. The three dimensional effect speaks of the historical event of the crucifixion and the presence of Christ living among us as "Risen" in our present day.