OUR FAITH STORY

Holy Cross Catholic Church was founded as a Diocesan Parish in 1936 by the Reverend Francis R. Weber, C.S.C. He gathered the few already baptized and confirmed Black Catholics and met in the living room of the William M. Tears’ family residence at 1203 E. 12th Street for the first Mass. Although this faith community was small, it was mighty, and within several months of its founding, a site had been obtained to build a church. The original church was completed in 1937 through the labors of Fr. Weber with some help from volunteers. Among the first parishioners were Mr. and Mrs. James E. Mosby, Jr., Mrs. Willametta Givens, Mrs. Mathilda DeBlanc, Mrs. Marie Smith and Mrs. Pollard.

In 1940, Holy Cross Hospital was built on the church grounds. The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and the first religious women to practice medicine in the United States, devoted their time, energy and talents to Holy Cross Hospital. The hospital moved from the location on the Church grounds to a larger facility on Martin Luther King Boulevard in 1951. Holy Cross Hospital was assumed by the Daughters of Charity and became a part of the Seton network of hospitals. It closed in 1989, thereby eliminating a hospital facility in East Austin.

In 1941, Holy Cross Catholic School was established. It closed in 1960 after nineteen years of service to the Austin Community. Some of the graduates of this parochial school are among the most distinguished professionals in the United States today.

In 1942, Holy Family Catholic Church was established as an offshoot of Holy Cross to serve the needs of a growing number of Black Catholic families in South Austin. It closed in 1951 and its members rejoined Holy Cross Catholic Church.

In 1960, the Society of the Divine Word assumed responsibility for ministering to the people of Holy Cross. In 1996, Holy Cross once again became a Diocese of Austin parish. In 2002, the Missionaries of St. Paul assumed responsibility for the Pastoral duties at Holy Cross.

In 1972, Meals on Wheels and More was founded at Holy Cross Church by eight volunteers, including parishioners, who used the kitchen facilities in the basement and the kitchen at another East Austin church to prepare and deliver meals to twenty-nine people three times a week. Today, thirty-three years later, more than 1,800 meals are served daily and hundreds more people are served through five other programs.

As you can see, Holy Cross Catholic Church has had a significant and important impact on the community as many of our parishioners have been very involved in numerous educational, social and political issues that affect East Austin, the city of Austin and the State of Texas. Two members of the parish have served on the Austin Independent School District School Board; two have served as state legislators (one currently) and one served as Speaker Pro-Tempore of the Texas State Legislature. One parishioner was a City Councilman who also served as Mayor Pro-Tempore. Currently, the state president of the National Association for Colored People (NAACP) is a member of Holy Cross.

Numerous forums have been held to inform the Church and community of pertinent issues, including forums for candidates for City Council, School Board, County and State offices. Holy Cross was also very involved in the efforts that ultimately gained the move of the airport from the East Austin community.

In the 50th Anniversary brochure, there were several congratulatory letters with comments worth quoting again. Bishop Vincent Harris said that “certainly no parish in the city has a larger percentage of parishioners who have become leaders in the civic community.” Clearly, that comment is no less true today. The Provincial Superior of the Society of the Divine Word, Very Rev. Borgia Aubespin made the comment that “any organization or institution that came about by the cooperative efforts of so many people acting together could only succeed for fifty years if all were united in an effort to achieve a common purpose.” That purpose has kept us going for an additional twenty years, and will keep us going into the future!

In conclusion, it seems appropriate to repeat once again the words from Isaiah carved into the front of our pulpit and quoted in the 50th anniversary brochure. “The Lord has breathed soul into me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to mend broken hearts, to proclaim freedom for the enslaved, to seek deliverance for the oppressed.” {Isaiah 61:1-2} This is still our mission – our goal, and we are called to work towards it with great passion. We have flourished as a parish, but we cannot sit back and relax. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors...on those who built this parish. We would be remiss not to thank the lay founders of Holy Cross who struggled to get a priest to begin a Church for the African American Catholic Community. To honor them and their hard work we will continue to develop leaders, to build buildings, to form a strong faith community, and to work together with others in the community. Let us press on together!

The following 14 Pastors have served at Holy Cross Catholic Church:

. 1936-1951 - Fr. Francis Weber, C.S.C.
. 1951-1952 - Fr. Edwin Bauer, C.S.C.
. 1952-1960 – Fr. Aloysius Dayberry
. 1960-1961 – Fr. Joseph A. Francis, SVD.
. 1961-1973 – Fr. Stanley Goatee, SVD
..................Fr. Mixim Willaims, SVD
..................Fr. Clement Mathis, SVD
. 1973-1981 – Fr. Michael Fritzen, SVD
. 1981-1982 – Fr. William Feldner, SVD
. 1982-1986 – Fr. Mark Figaro, SVD
. 1986-1996 – Fr. George Artis, SVD
. 1996-2001 – Fr. Isidore Ndagizimana
. 2002-2005 – Fr. Cletus Udoh, MSP
. 2005-Present – Fr. Michael Ajewole, MSP


Holy Cross has had an impact on the community, as many of our Parishioners have been very involved in numerous educational, political and social issues that affect East Austin, the City of Austin and the State of Texas. Numerous forums have been held to inform the Church and community of pertinent issues and the questioning of candidates for City Council and School Board Offices.