BlackFacts Details

Holy Cross Catholic Church, Corpus Christi, Texas (1914- )

Holy Cross Catholic Church, the first church for African American Catholics inCorpus Christi, Texas, was organized before the parish obtained a physicalbuilding.  Before African Americans in that area had achurch, they attended Saint Patrick’s Church, and some joined the MexicanChurch, Our Lady of Guadalupe, provided that they spoke Spanish.  In 1914, however, the Diocese of CorpusChristi finally recognized this disparity and canonically directed specificministering to African Americans.  TheJosephites who administered to black Catholics sent Father Sam Kelly to start aparish, but after he arrived, he had an accident that crushed his hand, and hesoon left to start a church in New Orleans, Louisiana. A Passionist priest, Father Mark Moeslein, replaced him.  Moeslein held mass in individual homes andpracticed the sacraments at Saint Patrick’s church.

The number of Black Catholics remained small in Corpus Christi; consequently,they had little money to build a church until Mother (Marie) Katharine Drexel(now Saint Katharine Drexel) arrived. Sister Drexel, an heiress and founder of the Sisters of the BlessedSacrament, often traveled to various places around the country and startedschools and churches for Native Americans and African Americans.  She stopped in Corpus Christi in 1917 andlearned of the inability of the parish to build a church.  Drexel found a piece of land after touringthe city and purchased it for the purpose of building a church and school; she gave the land to thediocese with the proviso that there should always be an African American churchin the city.

Construction soon started and a two-story building which housed the church onthe first floor and a school on the second floor was built.  The structure was dedicated by Bishop PaulJoseph Nussbaum on September 16, 1917. Another building was moved to the property to house the clergy and athird soon followed to house the sisters who taught at the school.  The Ursuline Sisters ran the school for fiveyears until the Sisters of the Holy Ghost (now