Holy Cross Catholic Church 405 W Clark St Champaign IL 61820 217-352-8748 http://www.holycrosschampaign.org

Holy Cross Catholic Church is a vibrant community that is preparing for its 100th anniversary celebration.  The church is home to approximately 970 families, with attendance at Mass varying.  They also run a school, which has an average enrollment of 325 students, with a 1/20 student-to-teacher ratio.  The school is a grade school only, K–8 with 18 classrooms.



Construction started on the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in 1920 and was completed in 1924.  Major reconstruction was undertaken in 1983, lasting eight months.  As much of the original interior was preserved as possible, with many of the original materials being reworked into new pieces.  The marble used was Italian, while the magnificent stained glass windows were from Germany.  The bronze crucifix in the  sanctuary was commissioned specifically for Holy Cross and was designed by Peter Fagan.  Holy Cross parishioner and artist Harry Breen led and designed the renovation.  He was a professor at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois.  He did not take payment for his work, stating, “The Church as a physical presence can help to sustain and nurture the spiritual life of the assembly it houses; it can celebrate; it can teach; it can pray; it can inspire” (Holy Cross website).  The renovation was completely paid for by the time it was completed.   The church is currently preparing for its upcoming 100th anniversary and celebrations.  Various activities are being planned, including a pilgrimage.  The church also supports a daily food pantry through a volunteer organization called St. Vincent De Paul, which distributes food on a daily basis.  Father Stephen Willard is the current pastor, with Henry Hart, Edward Mohrbacher, and Robert Ulbrich as deacons.  There was once a convent where the school currently stands, but it is no longer in existence.    

Holy Cross Church has strong ties with St. Matthew’s Parish and our Lady of the Lake in Mahomet.  Fundraising for Holy Cross under the direction of Father Walter McGinn was instrumental in raising funds to construct a school and convent on the site.  In 1962 St. Matthew Auxiliary school opened as an extension on Holy Cross, and by 1965 approximately 300 families were part of the parish.  St. Matthew’s became an official parish in June of 1954, and the church was completed and dedicated in April 1978.

Our Lady of the Lake grew out of after-Mass coffee conversations when Mahomet Catholics began to request Sunday Mass in Mahomet.  Father Bernard Render began celebrating Mass for the Mahomet Catholic community in a school gym in August 1975.  In 1978 Mahomet became a mission site of Holy Cross, and was subsidized by the parent church.  Our Lady of the Lake was designated as a parish in January 1981.

Holy Cross has a sister parish in St. Isaac Jogues in Rapid City, South Dakota.  St. Isaac Jogues is designated as a mission parish, serving approximately 180 families, many of whom are Native American.  Fundraising conducted at Holy Cross helps fund the mission, as well as school supplies for children and other community needs.  St. Isaac Jogues was established in 1951, and is associated with St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Grade School and St. Thomas More High School, which shares a name with Holy Cross’s local high school.   

Holy Cross School has been in existence for 95 years, and works with Champaign Unit 4 schools to supply additional teaching resources.  Focusing on faith-based values and high academic accomplishments, the school maintains a high academic and sports rating.  Upon graduation, many students continue on to St. Thomas More High School.  The school does provide financial assistance for at-need students. 

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