drawing of Holy Cross Church Holy Cross Church, Dryden/Freeville, NY

About Holy Cross Church

The first establishment of the Catholic faith in the Town of Dryden, New York, was in the Village of McLean, where Saint Patrick Church was dedicated in 1851 (at that time within the Diocese of Buffalo). Change of circumstances eventually caused this church to become a mission of Saint Anthony Church in Groton, New York.

In mid-July of 1947, thirty Catholics of the Villages of Freeville and Dryden met with Fr. William Hayes of Groton to discuss the possibility of having Mass celebrated in the Town of Dryden. On July 27th, the first Mass was offered in Dryden, on the second floor in what was formerly the old Grange Hall. This Mass was celebrated by Father Hayes on an altar formerly used at the Cornell Catholic Oratory.

Early in 1950, Father Thomas Cleary was appointed Catholic chaplain of The George Junior Republic in the Village of Freeville. The Catholics of the Dryden, McLean and Freeville areas sought out Father Cleary to be their priest. He found in them an energetic people who wanted to worship together and become a church community. Father Cleary then functioned as pastor of the Dryden Catholic Mission, as it was then known, offering Mass in Christ Chapel at the George Junior Republic. The geographical territory of the mission covered almost all of the Town of Dryden and included parts of the Towns of Groton and Ithaca. It was at this time that Saint Patrick Church in McLean, up to this time a mission of Saint Anthony Church in Groton, was incorporated into this Dryden Catholic Mission.

The Dryden Catholic Mission became the Church of the Holy Cross of Dryden, New York, in 1962. As an ecclesiastical and civil entity, the new parish was free to begin planning permanent structures. In September of 1962, a parish center was built on Union Street in the Village of Dryden and dedicated for religious education classes and parish social activities.

The growth of the parish during the 1960's suggested a more central location for the proposed new church building. Property on George Road between Rte 13 and Rte 38 was purchased. Construction of the church and rectory/office building was completed in 1970. The Beginnings and growth of the parish occurred during the long pastorate of Father Thomas Cleary, who after 35 years at the helm, retired as pastor in 1985. During the 1970's, a number of Jesuit priests studying at Cornell University offered assistance at Holy Cross: Fr. Edward Dowling from 1971 to 1973, Fr. Roger Downey from 1975 to 1978; Fr. Richard Doyle from September to December in 1978. From 1984 to 1985, Jesuits from LeMoyne College in Syracuse offered weekly assistance

Father William M. Barrett was named pastor in 1985 and remained in that position until 1993. It was during the pastorate of Father Barrett that parishioners took another major step in the history of the parish, by consolidating the parish buildings in one location on George Road. The Parish Center on Union Street was sold and Cleary Hall was erected, along with classrooms and meeting rooms, all attached to the rear of the church. Greater privacy for the rectory was achieved and suitable workspace for the staff was developed. An adequate water supply was located, the septic system was improved and the facilities were made more energy efficient. Fr. Stephen Kraus assisted from July to December 1989 during the six-month sabbatical of Fr. Barrett.

A series of priests followed after Father Barrett was named pastor of St. Michael Church in Lyons, New York. Fr. Joseph McCaffrey served as pastor from 1993 to 1994. Fr. Paul Freemesser served as priest administrator from 1994 to 1995 during which time Fr. Thomas Celso assisted from January to March 1995 and various others priests from March until June. In June 1995, Fr. John Hayes was appointed priest administrator. It was during his administration that in 1997, a 1906 E.M. Skinner Pipe organ was relocated and rebuilt at Holy Cross Church.

When Fr. Hayes left the parish in 1999, Father Bernard Carges, already pastor of Saint Anthony Parish in Groton, NY was asked, in addition to his responsibilities at Saint Anthony, to assume the pastorate of Holy Cross Church. Because of declining health for Father Carges, the Parish Pastoral Council petitioned the diocese to name a pastoral administrator for Holy Cross Church, with Father Carges remaining the canonical pastor but only responsible for the Sacramental Celebrations. Sister Barbara Stinard, RSM was named pastoral administrator and served in this position from June 2000 to 2002. Also, Fr. Peter Abue, a Nigerian priest studying at Cornell University, assisted at both Saint Anthony Church and Holy Cross Church. In June 2002 that Father Carges retired and Father Frank E. Lioi was assigned to the pastorates of Saint Anthony Church in Groton and Holy Cross Church in Dryden.

It was during Fr. Lioi's tenure that a beautiful wood-carved crucifix along with wood-carved statues of Mary and John the Evangelist at the foot of the cross were placed on the wall behind the altar. Additional statues of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Joseph, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Theresa of Lisieux, and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini were added.

In the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, also used as the daily Mass Chapel, the tabernacle was refinished and adorned on either side with two wood-carved angels. A wood-carved dove under golden rays, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, was affixed to the ceiling above the lectern, a large crucifix was installed on the side wall, and a statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was erected.

A new main altar and ambo was dedicated by Bishop Matthew Clark in 2010.

Summary of Pastoral Leadership at Holy Cross Church

Pastor: Fr. Thomas Cleary
Pastor: Fr. William Barrett
Pastor: Fr. Joseph McCaffrey
Priest Administrator: Fr. Paul Freemesser
Priest Administrator: Fr. John Hayes
Pastor: Fr. Bernard Carges
Pastoral Administrator: Sr. Barbara Stinard, RSM
Sacramental Minister: Fr. Bernard Carges
Pastor: Fr. Frank E. Lioi (2002-2004)
Pastor: Fr. Scott Kubinski
Pastor:Fr. Malachy Nwosu
2017 - present
Pastor: Fr. Daniel Ruiz-Sierra