THE HISTORY OF ST. STEVEN’S PARISH
Originally founded as a Mission under the administration of St. Mary’s Parish in Chandler, the growing Sun Lakes Catholic population outgrew this status and in July, 1988, became an independent parish. Fr. Emmett J. FitzPatrick was appointed the founding pastor. Parish boundaries were drawn from Hunt Hwy on the south to Price Road on the west to Ocotillo Road on the North and Arizona Avenue on the east. The desire to become our own community led to the construction of our church where, on August 15, 1990, the first Mass at St. Steven’s Church was celebrated on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother.
The name Steven was chosen by the “founding” parishioners for two reasons: it was the middle name of former Phoenix Bishop James S. Rausch who died in 1981, and it represented the first Christian martyr. While the spelling of Steven may also be Stephen, it is still the same man who is our parish patron saint. His feast day is December 26. In 1994, the complex was expanded to include a new social hall with meeting rooms, a storage area and a large Great Room. This construction completed the enclosure of the Spanish style courtyard centered around a fountain. In 1995, the parish purchased a new rectory location in the Oakwood area of Sun Lakes, just minutes from the church complex. In 1997, the population growth in the southeast Chandler area necessitated an expansion of the church’s seating capacity. Following the innovative addition of “wings” on each side of the main sanctuary, seating capacity doubled from 400 to 800.
Our founding pastor, Fr. E.J. FitzPatrick, passed away in October, 2004, one year after celebrating his 45′h anniversary of ordination. Bishop Thomas Olmsted appointed Fr. L. Pierre Hissey to become the second pastor of St. Steven’s parish, and presided at Fr. Pierre’s installation held at St. Steven’s on February 26, 2005.