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Former Holy Cross Church Moves Across NCCU Campus

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On Friday, April 23, workers began moving the building that served Holy Cross Parish in Durham as a church for 55 years. In 2007, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) purchased the building and property from the Jesuits’ Maryland Province, and the expanding, predominantly African American congregation constructed a new church about a mile away.

NCCU is spending $2 million to move the structure in order to make room for the construction of a new nursing school building. The former church will be relocated less than a mile away, on the other side of the NCCU campus, where it will be used as meeting space for the university and community.

The church, which measures 70 feet by 35 feet and weighs 240 tons, was raised from its foundation earlier in the week and placed on a platform of steel beams. On Friday, movers placed twelve self-propelled, two-axle dollies, each with eight wheels, underneath the platform and began the move.  The project will take two days to finish.

The Catholic community of Holy Cross began in 1939, when the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus established it as a mission to evangelize the black community. Its founder, Jesuit Fr. William Risacher, found only one black Catholic family in Durham, but celebrated Mass in a dental office, then a beauty parlor and finally the rectory chapel, until Bishop Vincent S. Waters consecrated the little stone church on Alston Avenue in 1952.

When the parish moved to its new church in 2007, a portion of the stone facing from the old church was taken to decorate the wall behind the new sanctuary.