History of Holy Cross
Established in 1892 to serve the Lithuanian population of Mount Carmel.
First pastor: Rev. M. Peza
Last pastor: Rev. Joseph D. Bowler, O.S.F.S.
Noteworthy events. . .
* The first Lithuanian immigrants to Mount Carmel worshipped at St. Joseph Church. Soon a delegation from the Saints Peter and Paul Society (J. Miliauskas, V. Juknelis, V. Zalionis) sought permission from the Bishop of Harrisburg to establish a parish for the Lithuanian people.
* First baptism: Elizabeth Bujauckas – September 4, 1892
First recorded marriage: Joseph Dolejzeris and Anna Urbanowicz – November 3, 1892
First recorded burial: Thomas Gelazewski – July 8, 1898
* Four lots were purchased at Sixth and Poplar Streets for a church, and its cornerstone was blessed on September 14, 1892 – the Feast of the Holy Cross. The first Mass offered in the new church took place on Christmas Day.
* A meetinghouse, which would be the forerunner of a parish school, and which could accommodate 900 people for Saturday religious instructions, was built behind the church in the late 1800s.
* Although the new parish saw the arrivals and departures of several pastors and administrators in its early years, a new era began with the arrival of Rev. Anthony Staniukynas in 1904.
* Determined to provide for the religious education of his people, Father Staniukynas managed to raise funds to add a second floor to the original meetinghouse and turn the whole building into a school, which was blessed on December 26, 1907.
* It was also through the zealous efforts of Father Staniukynas that a community of Sisters was established to serve the needs of the Lithuanian people in the United States. Three young Lithuanian women, trained by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Scranton, became the first Sisters of Saint Casimir. They arrived in Mount Carmel on October 7, 1907.
* Holy Cross School – the first Lithuanian school in the U.S. – opened on the feast of the Epiphany in 1908, with an enrollment of 125 students.
* In 1922, despite financial problems in the parish, plans were made to build a new school behind the church and a convent at 339 S. Poplar St.
* In 1929, then-pastor Rev. Dr. Joseph Koncius made several improvements to parish buildings, including the rectory. He also oversaw construction of an altar in the cemetery, where Mass would be celebrated annually on Memorial Day.
* Holy Cross Parish observed its Golden Jubilee on October 4, 1942.
* Father Stanley Laurinitis, a native son of the parish, served as its pastor from 1963 to 1967.
* In 1964, Holy Cross School consolidated with the other parochial schools in the town to form Holy Spirit School. Holy Cross School building was used at the time for the lower grades.
* In 1970, Father Thomas P. Walsh became the first in a succession of Oblates of St. Francis de Sales who served as pastors at Holy Cross. Five Oblates in all would serve at Holy Cross.
* Holy Cross Parish celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1992.
Did you know that Holy Cross Convent was the first Motherhouse of the Sisters of Saint Casimir? Their foundress, Mother Maria Kaupas, one of the three Sisters who arrived in Mount Carmel in 1907, was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI. For more information on the Sisters of Saint Casimir, go to www.ssc2601.com.
(Sources: Holy Cross Diamond Jubilee book, 1967; 100th Anniversary book, 1992; Mount Carmel Borough Sesquicentennial book, 2012)