Columbus" has a long
and rich history, from its
origins as a mission served by the Dominicans of Somerset, Ohio, in
1833, to its present position as a thriving center of spiritual
strength in its downtown neighborhood, now known as the Discovery
District. From a handful of parishioners in 1837, when construction
began on the city's first Catholic Church with a small number of
early German Catholic families, through a burgeoning influx of
immigrants from Germany and Ireland after 1848, Holy Cross became
the center of Catholic Columbus. Through post-Civil War development
of the capital city as a transportation and industrial center, into
and beyond all the 20th Century events of wars, the Great
Depression, inner-city blight, urban renewal and downtown
revitalization, Holy cross and its parishioners have indeed "held
high the Cross."
Holy Cross church is the successor, on the same property, of Columbus'
first Catholic Church, Saint Remigius, which was dedicated on April
29, 1838. Saint Remigius, who died in 533, was an archbishop in
Rheims, France, no far from where the first pastor, Father Damien
Juncken, was reared. Father Juncker who served the early years of
Holy Cross, later became the first bishop of Alton, Illinois
(presently the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois). He was the first
of four pastors who were elevated later to the episcopacy.
By 1843 when the first resident pastor, Father William
Schonat, arrived, the small Saint Remigius Chapel, measuring fifty
by thirty feet, was too small to accommodate the growing number of
Catholics moving to Columbus. It was decided to build the present
church in 1844 and at the request of Father Schonat, to dedicate the
Church to the Holy Cross. The inscription now covered by the "Follow
Me" statue reads from Galatians 6:14:
God forbid that I should glory, but in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus
Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world.
Archbishop John Baptist Purcell dedicated the present structure
which contains over 800,000 bricks, on Sunday, January 19, 1848. No
other Catholic or Protestant church in Columbus is older.
In 1877, following Vespers celebrating the Golden Jubilee of
the episcopacy of Pope Pius IX, a fire engulfed the Church
destroying the high altar, organ, church ceiling and choir loft,
causing over $20,000 in damages. Following the fire, the sacristies
were enlarged and four rooms were added above the sacristies to
house the Brothers of Mary, who taught the boys of the school for
nearly forty years.
Population growth brought about the first division of the
parish leading to the establishment of St. Patrick Church in 1851 to
serve Irish immigrants. Services in English were held at Holy Cross
until 1853 dedication of Saint Patrick. Remembering their own
plight, Holy Cross parishioners donated $1200 toward the
construction of St. Patrick. The Holy Cross choir provided the vocal
music at the new church's dedication.
With continued growth of the city, Holy Cross purchased land
on South Third Street. This later became the present St. Mary
Church. Also, Holy Cross purchased the entire North Section of Mount
Calvary Cemetery for its members. For many years, the sextons where
members of Holy Cross, and the cemetery records kept at the Holy
Cross Rectory. After the Civil War and the vast growth of Columbus,
the Diocese of Columbus was erected in 1868. The new Catholic church
being built on East Broad Street was redesigned, becoming Saint
The beautiful window in the Church were designed by the
famous Zettler Studios of Germany and installed after World War One.
During the war, the windows were stored on a dock in Germany. In
1923, the longest pastorate in the history of Holy Cross came to an
end with the death of Father Clement R. Rhode. He served Holy Cross
for 46 years. he was succeeded by a son of the parish, Father Peter
Much praise and thanks is accorded Monsignor William Kappes
who took much time energy to write the history of Holy Cross. He
first served as the temporary administrator and later pastor.
Through his efforts, the records and history keep the past of Holy
Father Linus Dury began the Novena to the Sorrowful Mother in 1946 -- it continues today, on First Friday's, following the 11:30 a.m. Mass. From the
late 1930's to the early 1970's Holy Cross struggled. Several
priests served only as administrators and those who did become
pastor, stayed for only a brief period of time.
Holy Cross has been blessed also to have priests living
in residence helped with the spiritual needs of the parish. From the late Father
Lawrence O'Conner to our present priest in-residence, Monsignor
Corcoran, we are indebted to their tireless efforts ministering to
us and assisting the pastor.
As mentioned previously, three pastors from Holy Cross became
bishops: Father Josue Young, Father Capsar Borgess, and Father
George Fulcher. Bishop Fulcher served as administrator of Holy Cross
and later as pastor. He also served as editor of the diocesan
newspaper with offices at Holy Cross. Bishop Fulcher became the second
Auxiliary Bishop of Columbus
in 1976, and later the bishop of Lafayette, Indiana, in 1983, dying
tragically in 1984.
While pastor of Holy Cross, Father Richard Dodd was
instrumental in establishing the Cum Christo Retreat Center.
Recognition is also given to Monsignor Joseph Hakel who served as
pastor in the 1950's and later from 1968 - 1978. Monsignor Hakel
continued the writing of the history of Holy Cross and also helped
form the nonprofit corporation which built Nazareth Towers. when
construction began in the late 1960's, Nazareth Towers became the
first "new" building in the parish boundaries after the area formerly
known as Market-Mohawk was leveled. The Dominican Sisters of Saint Mary
of the Springs continue to operate the Towers which provides
housing to many of our parishioners. Father Edwin McNulty and Monsignor
James Berendt both saw to the needs of not only the parishioners, but
also the Church building itself. Both completed major repairs and
improvements during their pastorates.
During the mid 1980's, Holy Cross became the spiritual home
of the growing Latino population of Columbus. In 1993, Bishop Griffin
erected the parish of Santa Cruz. The parishioners of Santa Cruz
(Spanish for Holy Cross) celebrated their festive liturgies at Holy
Cross until July of 2001. The continuing growth of their parish found
them needing more space than available at Holy Cross. Holy Name Parish
on the north side of Columbus became their new home.
In 1987, Reverend Monsignor Lawrence J. Corcoran, P.A., moved
into the rectory after his retirement as the Executive Director of the
National Conference of Catholic Charities (Catholic Charities, USA),
having lead our national Catholic charity activity from 1965-1982. In
1995, Bishop James Griffin
honored him with the dignity as a
Protonotary Apostolic--the highest
honor given to a monsignor. Msgr. Corcoran passed away in 2009.
In July, 2000, Holy cross welcomed its present pastor, Father
Jerome D. Stluka, a native of Columbus Holy Name and Our Lady of Peace
parishes. He is the former Director of the Family Life Office and the
Office of Vocations for the Diocese of Columbus, and ministers to the
sick and dying at the Grant Medical Center where he serves as the