St. Paul of the Cross Parish was founded in 1970 by Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll of Miami. The Passionist priests at nearby Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center staffed the new parish, and Father Charles Sullivan was appointed founding pastor. St. Paul of the Cross Parish celebrated its first Mass in the Juno Fire Hall on Carolinda Drive, where the firetrucks had to be moved for weekend Mass. Daily Masses were often celebrated in parishioners’ homes, and they worshipped on Sundays in a funeral home, a Methodist Church and a restaurant.
Beginning in 1973, Pastor John Frerking invited the congregation to hold Saturday evening Masses at Faith Lutheran Church in North Palm Beach. This began a warm, lasting friendship which is still celebrated each Thanksgiving morning at an ecumenical service at St. Paul of the Cross.
On December 21, 1974, Mass was celebrated for the first time in the newly built St. Paul of the Cross Parish Center, which became a multipurpose facility. The building fund was launched in 1977, and a beautiful new church was built. The first Mass in the new church was celebrated on Easter Sunday in 1979.
Father Alexis Paul from Jamaica, New York was the second pastor. During his tenure, parish ministries expanded and flourished, and the church campus expanded.
Shortly after the Diocese of Palm Beach was created, two new parishes were established. These reduced St. Paul of the Cross’s congregation size, but community outreach continued stronger than ever.
Passionist Father Thomas McCann took over as pastor in 1988. Shortly after his arrival, the Passionists left the parish and the Diocese of Palm Beach assumed responsibility for its administration.
In 1989, Father Arthur J. Venezia was assigned pastor of the parish. He focused on parishioners’ awareness of their less-fortunate brothers and sisters. The Bread of Life Committee sponsored several “hunger dinners” and the “cost-of-a-meal” proceeds were donated to many ministries and organizations that assist the poor within the diocese and in third-world countries.
Current ministries at St. Paul of the Cross Parish include CPU Ministry, where volunteers repair, rebuild, and refurbish donated computers for clients in need in the community and beyond; Kairos, a ministry whose mission is to share the transforming love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to impact the hearts and lives of incarcerated men, women and youth; and Van Ministry, which packs and delivers bags of food to the disabled on Tuesday (monthly) and to seniors on Saturday mornings in Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach every week throughout the year.
Father Thomas R. Lafreniere is the current pastor. Father Daniel Devore, Father Melvin Shorter, Father Brian Flanagan, and Father Lee Smith serve the parish as assisting priests. Deacon Gregory Quinn and Deacon Frank Bandy serve the parish as permanent deacons, and Robinson Aza serves as a transitional deacon.