In 1938, the Congregation of the Passion (Passionists) sent Fr. Arnold Vetter to establish a mission for urban African-Americans in the Tuxedo Junction area of Ensley, Alabama. Aided by the Felician Sisters of Chicago, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky, and the Franciscan Sisters of Joliet, the Passionists soon established Holy Family Parish, Holy Family Elementary School, Holy Family High School, and Holy Family Hospital. These ministries flourished for more than fifty years.
In the first decade of the new millennium, changes in the educational and economic landscape of the community caused great stress on Holy Family High School. Holy Family Parish, along with the Diocese of Birmingham, and others in the community came together to re-envision the next generation of Holy Family's mission and ministry in urban Birmingham.
In 2007, Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School (HFCR) opened its doors as the first Cristo Rey school in the South.The Cristo Rey Network is comprised of 32 high schools across the country that provide an innovative, successful, and proven model of secondary education for children most in need. By combining corporate work-study program with a rigorous academic curriculum, students who normally would not be able to afford a college preparatory education now have a chance to work their way to higher education. In so doing, generational cycles of poverty and violence are broken.
Continuing the ministry and presence of the Passionists, Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. became the first President serving until 2015. Fr. Jon Chalmers became the school's second President in 2016, and continues to serve in that capacity today.