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LOOKING BACK...AND MORE
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When you enter Holy Cross Church on 42nd St, between 8th and 9th Avenues, you are stepping into the history and essence of New York City. A living landmark, Holy Cross Parish was founded in 1852, and the church is the oldest structure on all of 42nd Street. However, Holy Cross does not live only in its rich past. With weekday and Sunday Masses, Community Outreach Programs, and a vibrant and growing roster of parishioners, Holy Cross is an essential ingredient in Times Square and Western Midtown.

Crowd from the Novena Services (1942) spilling out into 42nd Street.

THE BEGINNING

Looking back to the 1850's, when Times Square was still known as Longacre Square, tens of thousands of mostly Irish Catholics, lived with no place to worship. It was at this time that Archbishop Hughes founded Holy Cross Church to minister to their needs. As the population of the neighborhood and parish exploded, it became necessary to expand. So, between the years 1876 and 1889, the church was enlarged and the Holy Cross School for Boys and Girls was established on West 43rd Street. The convent was purchased much later on 44th Street for the Dominican Sisters who still administrate the school.

Founded in 1852, the Church of the Holy Cross is the oldest building on 42nd Street from river to river. The original church, seriously damaged by lightning in 1867, was demolished and the new church, built on the same site, was opened to the public in 1868.

priest

The parish prospered and grew; in 1886 it was necessary to enlarge the church. The following three years saw the establishment of a parochial school for girls and boys on West 43rd Street, as well as Holy Cross Lyceum, a clubhouse for young men. In the 1930's a convent was purchased on West 44th Street for the Dominican Sisters who still administrate the school.

The parish has been blessed with a rich history of dedicated pastors, some of whom have achieved national and international recognition.

In 1921, Rev. Francis P. Duffy, beloved chaplain of the 'Fighting Irish' 69th Regiment of New York, with a reputation for bravery in World War I, came to Holy Cross as rector and later became the pastor. In 1932 he inaugurated the "Printer's Mass" at 2:20 a.m. on Sunday to serve the late-shift workers at the New York Times, Herald Tribune, Daily News and Daily Mirror. He was especially dedicated to the young people who had come back from overseas to their families in New York after the war. Fr. Duffy's statue framed against a Celtic Cross, stands today amidst the traffic and congestion of Times Square.

Fr. Duffy's successor, Msgr. Joseph A. McCaffrey, a Lt. Col. and Chaplain of the 69th Regiment, had been cited for bravery under fire in France and awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Silver Star. Msgr. McCaffrey established the Perpetual Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, and more than 20,000 people came to make the novena each Monday spilling out of the Church onto the street listening over loudspeakers. The radio audience was limitless.

church

Over the years, Holy Cross, a parish which had grown by leaps and bounds, slowly diminished to about 200 families as buildings were demolished to make way for terminals, highways and tunnels necessary to accommodate the huge numbers of people who arrived in our city each day.

Theoretically, the parish boundaries go from 38th to 46th Streets and from Broadway to the Hudson River, but in reality, Holy Cross serves a much wider community. The commuter, the tourist, the spiritually depleted, the weary, the persons with AIDS, the homeless and the hungry all find solace in this church at the "Crossroads of the World".

Today there are 360 girls and boys enrolled in the parish elementary school. The area which once housed our lower Church now serves as a clubroom for our senior parishioners, a meeting place for various Community groups, the home of The Theater at Holy Cross a rehearsal space for non profit theater groups and a food pantry which last year distributed 9,000 emergency food parcels to households in our area.

In 1986, the parish began to celebrate its monthly Healing Mass for those who are seriously ill, especially people with AIDS and those who care for them. The Gold Star Chapel has since been reinstituted as the Gold Star Peace Shrine in our main church. Inscribed in its Book of Honor are more than 3,800 names of those who gave their lives during World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam, as well as those reported in each of these wars as Missing in Action.

So, while much has changed, much has not stayed the same. The Church is in a state of disrepair needing extensive work on the exterior walls and roof before work on the interior of the church can begin. Even in this state Holy Cross continues to stand as a beacon of light and hope on West 42nd Street.

A HISTORY OF DEDICATED PASTORS
Rev. Francis P. Duffy
Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. McCaffrey
Rev. Msgr. Robert Rappleyea
In 1921, Rev. Francis P. Duffy, chaplain of the "Fighting Irish" 69th Regiment of New York, with a reputation for bravery in World War I, came to Holy Cross as rector and later became the pastor. In 1932, he introduced the "Printer's Mass" held at 2:20 AM on Sundays, serving the late-shift workers of the New York Times, Herald Tribune, Daily News and Daily Mirror. He was especially dedicated to the young people who had come back from overseas to their families in New York after the war. Today, Fr. Duffy's statue stands framed against a Celtic Cross on the north end of Times Square.
Fr. Duffy's successor, Monsignor Joseph A. McCaffrey was an Army Chaplain in the First World War and was decorated with both a Silver Star and Croix de Guerre. Also known as "The Bishop of Times Square", he was pastor for 36 years, and chaplain of the New York Police Department for 30 years. A well-known crusader against crime and pornography in Times Square, Fr. McCaffrey helped convince Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia to close down neighborhood burlesque houses. He also established the Perpetual Novena of Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Thousands came to make the novena each Monday spilling out of the Church onto the street, listening over loudspeakers. The radio audience was seemingly limitless. Fr. McCaffrey helped convince city officials that the space just off the corner of 43rd Stret and 9th was urgently needed for neighborhood children and students of the Holy Cross School, which is why McCaffrey Playground, currently located at the site, is named in his honor.
Fr. Rappleyea was the catalyst who helped with the clean up of Times Square. He was charter member of the Mayor's Midtown Citizens' Comm. and founder of the 42nd Street Civic Association. He was also Police Chaplain for the Port Authority of NY and NJ. Totally, his dedicated work in the parish and neighborhood is visible in The New Times Sq. A plaque commemorates his contributions in the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street.