Parish History - 1969 - 1992

The history of Holy Cross demonstrates what can be accomplished when Christian optimism is put to work. This dedication signifies the faith experience which began in 1969 by sixty-one Catholics living in the Kernersville area at that time.

In August of 1969, when the idea of a church of their own was first conceived, and North Carolina was a single diocese, Fr. Wm. Pharr, pastor of St. Benedict the Moor, addressed a request to Bishop Vincent Waters, Bishop of Raleigh, to open a mission in Kernersville. It was siqned by 61 people {41 of whom were children) and was granted by the Bishop .

The first Mass was celebrated on Sunday, September 7, 1969 at 12:00 noon at the antique shop next to Korner's Folly. The building was furnished with pews from the original Piney Grove Methodist Church; music was from a $99.00 console organ from a Winston-Salem pawn shop and articles gleaned from 'other area Catholic Churches.

In August of 1971, Fr. Pharr was transferred to St. James Church in Concord and Fr. Beatty was named his successor at St. Benedict's and the Mission in Kernersville. Fr. Beatty continued his weekly excursions to Kernersville to serve the growing Catholic population. In 1972, the Diocese of Charlotte was established led by Bishop Michael Beqley who was ordained that year. On January 12, 1972 the Kernersville Catholic Mission became part of the newly established Diocese of Charlotte.

 

In September 1973, the Reverend Leon Bolich of the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales became the first full-time pastor of Kernersville and the Mission became officially established as the Church of the Holy Cross. It also established a rewarding association with the Oblate priests of St. Francis De Sales. Approximately 250 were served by the parish at that time.

 

In July 1974 a 6 1/2 acre tract of land on Southern Street was purchased as a site for the future church. The possibility of building a church was the main topic of discussion at the May 1977 parish board meeting. In January 1978, Holy Cross Parish presented a building plan to the Diocese. With the Diocesan approval, the parish moved forward and in March the project chairpersons were selected and the work began.

 

On Sunday afternoon, April 30, 1978 the ground-breaking ceremony was held. Finally construction began in May on the new church building. On October 29, 1978, Holy Cross Church was dedicated.

 

Fr. Bolich left for a teaching position at High Point College in the summer of 1979. Fr. John Gavin, former pastor of St. Joseph's in Asheboro, NC moved to Kernersville as his replacement in August. Be brought with him a young priest from Philadelphia to be in residence while he taught at Bishop McGuinness High School in Winston-Salem., Fr. Harry McGovern, OSFS. Ten months after his arrival. Fr. Gavin was called home to Pennsylvania. Fr. Barry took over as pastor of Holy Cross.

 

By the end of 1981, it was clear Holy Cross was straining for space to accommodate the many educational and congregational activities required by the people. A two year successful venture into child daycare was the catalyst needed by the pastor and parish board to expand. On October 24, 1982 in renewal and with joy we dedicated the enlarged facility to the honor and glory of God.

 

Fr. Harry McGovern, OSFS left in 1986 to assist in missionary work in Uruguay and in the interim, Fr. Gerry Clark was assigned until our present pastor, Fr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, OSFS arrived in 1987.

 

Fr. Tom is a native of Philadelphia. Be grew up in Wildwood New Jersey, attended St. Ann 's Grammar School and Wildwood Catholic High School. Fr. Tom joined the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales in November 1951. Be was professed in 1953 and did practice teaching at Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia. He attended Niaqara University and got a B.A .in Philosophy in 1957. He attended De Sales Theological Seminary in Washington, DC where he received a master's Degree in Theology in 1962. He attended Catholic University of America where he received a master's in Secondary Education in 1964.      He attended Villanova University where he received his Master's in French in 1967. He taught French at Fr. Judge High School and Northeast Catholic from 1972 to 1986. He was departmental chairman of the Foreign Language Department for 14 years.

 

On July 2, 1988, three men were ordained at Holy Cross by Bishop Donoghue to the Order of Deacon. One of these was Eugene (Gene) J. Gillis who was also a charter member of Holy Cross. Gene is married to Christine, a father of seven children and is a retired engineering supervisor from AT&T.

 

Holy Cross now has close to 450 families, an Hispanic Community which celebrates mass in Spanish on Sunday, a daycare facility with approximately 165 children, an active Christian Formation Program and a Knights of Columbus Council.

 

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