Holy Cross Parish History

Our parish was founded in October of 1890, created from the northwesternmost territory of St. Vincent Parish in Germantown and the southeasternmost territory of Our Mother of Consolation Parish in Chestnut Hill.

Our parish purchased an existing church building from Grace Episcopal Church (presently located on the corner of Gowen Avenue and Ardleigh Street) along with an adjoining house which served as a rectory. Over the next twenty years, additional real estate was acquired, to make room for a school building and convent building on Mount Airy Avenue.

The school building (including a large chapel in what is now the school cafeteria) was completed in time for school to open in September, 1910. The Sisters of Saint Joseph agreed to staff the faculty of the new school. Work began on the construction of a convent building, which was completed in November, 1912. The house on the corner of Mount Airy Avenue and Boyer Street was purchased in 1922 to serve as the parish rectory.

On May 25, 1925, two parishes were established from the eastern third of Holy Cross Parish: St. Therese Parish on Ardleigh Street in East Mount Airy, and St. Madeleine Sophie Parish on Greene Street in West Mount Airy.

The need for a larger church building had been evident since the first decade of the 1900s; and plans — years in development — finally came to fruition with the construction of our present church building between January, 1928 and June, 1929.

As one of the outcomes of extensive diocesan reorganization, St. Therese Parish and St. Madeleine Sophie Parish were re-incorporated into Holy Cross Parish on July 1, 2013.

Here is a list of the pastors of Holy Cross Parish since our founding in 1890, with some significant parish milestones during their tenure.

Rev. Joseph O’Keefe1890-1895parish established October 1890; old church (built c. 1858) consecrated November 16, 1890
Rev. John Elcock1895-1904special ministry to Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf
Rev. John Toomey1904-1916Holy Cross School built 1911; Holy Cross Convent established 1914
Msgr. Joseph McCullough1916-1921open-air Masses during 1918 flu pandemic; fundraising for new church construction
Msgr. John Mellon1921-1923Holy Cross Rectory established March 1922
Rev. William Brady1923-1937St Therese Parish (Ardleigh Street) & St Madeleine Sophie Parish (Greene Street) established May 1925; present church built 1929
Rev. George Orr1937-1946Golden Jubilee celebration (1940)
Rev. Joseph Kelly1946-1966“Holy Cross Dances”; present Holy Cross Convent built 1954
Rev. Timothy Buckley 1966-1969Vatican II lecture series; formation of Parish Council & Liturgy Committee; Home Mass program
Msgr. Charles Woods 1969-1979Holy Cross School renovation
Rev. Francis Dreger 1979-1985parish organizations established and strengthened
Rev. James Locke 1985-1993Parish Centennial celebration (1990); “lower church” renovation; convent chapel renovation; church stained glass restoration
Rev. James Hutchins 1993-2000
Rev. Leo Oswald 2000-2009Holy Cross Parish “twinned” with St Madeleine Sophie Parish; rectory moved to Greene Street campus
Rev. Robert Mulligan 2009-2011
Rev. James Cox 2011-2013
Rev. William Grogan 2013-Holy Cross Parish merged with St Therese Parish and St Madeleine Parish (2013);
Independence Mission Schools consortium assumes Holy Cross School operations (September 2013);
Rectory returns to Mount Airy Avenue campus (January 2018);
Livestreaming capability installed to meet needs during the pandemic of 2020