Our Lady of the Cross Parish was founded on July 1, 2011, the result of a diocesan-mandated merger of two venerable Holyoke parishes, Mater Dolorosa (founded 1896) and Holy Cross (founded 1905). The worship site is at the former Holy Cross parish, just 1.2 miles from the former Mater Dolorosa parish church. The administration of the new parish has been entrusted to the Conventual Franciscan Friars.
The new parish includes the Mater Dolorosa Parochial School which serves children from 3- and 4-year old pre-school to the 8th grade. Mater Dolorosa Cemetery in South Hadley is now under the administrative care of Our Lady of the Cross Parish.
The merger sought to unite and strengthen the best traditions of both former parishes. Holy Cross was known for its ambitious adult faith-formation programs, particularly the ALPHA and Life in the Spirit seminars as well as its tradition of Eucharistic Adoration. Mater Dolorosa was dedicated to its parochial school and youth faith-formation, its magnificent choir which sang every Sunday and Holyday, and the many community-building social activities held in the Pope John Paul II Social Center. Both parishes were distinguished for their generous food, clothing, and Christmas toy collections for the local needy.
The Franciscan Friars are dedicated to preaching the message of peace in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, and inviting all parishioners to be Instruments of Peace.