When Orlando Township was established by the City Council of Johannesburg around 1930, St. Mary’s in Orlando East became the first and only Anglican Church in the township. The township was subsequently extended to an area that is referred to as Orlando West. It was then that the Diocese of Johannesburg decided to build Holy Cross Church in 1942. Initially it operated as a chapel to St. Mary’s. In the mid-forties it became a fully fledged parish. Archival information indicates that through the efforts of Fr. Trevor Huddleston, approval for site number 10484 was granted by the City Council of Johannesburg for a school and the adjoining site for a church.
Bishops Huddlestone & Tutu Fr Raymond Raynes
The CR fathers were initially in control at the time and resided at Lesedi which was a headquarters and a pastoral residence. The first priest in charge of Holy Cross was Fr Raymond Raynes, a CR father who was an uncompromising Anglo-Catholic who taught the faith in terms which ordinary lay people understood and he appreciated their enjoyment of the colour and drama of traditional worship. He was followed by a long list of Community of Resurrection (An Anglican Order of Monks) fathers who came to South Africa to work as missioners in education and as servants of the Lord in the Church. Fr Raynes whose monumental efforts in education and parish work had proved to be so demanding that the Community of Resurrection summoned him back to Mirfield in England in order to recuperate. Fr Raynes was deeply concerned about who should be appointed to succeed him. He met Trevor Huddleston (at that stage still a novice in the community) who had been appointed to nurse him while he was in the infirmary. As a result of that meeting, much to Huddleston's surprise, Raynes was convinced that he had found his successor. Fr Trevor Huddleston CR then succeeded him to come and manage Holy Cross and other missionary work in Johannesburg. Over the course of the next few years in Holy Cross and Sophiatown, Fr Huddleston developed into a much-loved priest and respected anti-apartheid activist, earning him the nickname Makhalipile ("dauntless one").
During the CR fathers’ time, Holy Cross became an independent parish. It was also during the tenure of CR fathers that Holy Cross School and Crèche were established by the parish.
In the mid fifties the CR fathers handed over the reins to local priests and the first priest to lead the parish was Fr David Rakale. Fr Rakale was succeeded by Fr Photolo who rekindled the parishioners’ enthusiasm yielding a remarkable outcome as far as church dues were concerned. It was also time to think about a new church structure to replace the old austerity building. A loan was granted by the Diocese and Buy a brick campaign was initiated by Fr Photolo resulting in extending the Church building which was officially opened in 1977. The loan was fully repaid in 1988.
In 1989 Fr Peter Lenkoe was appointed as the rector of the parish. During the struggle against apartheid, a slogan prioritising liberation over education called “Liberation now and education after” was an order of the day. It is in response to this that Fr Peter Lenkoe initiated a Saturday School to help boost matric pass rate and results of the students. It was also under his leadership and guidance that the Holy Cross Education Trust and Holy Cross Soup Kitchen were established.
In 1999 Fr Thato Molipa was appointed as the parish Rector. Under his leadership Holy Cross Training Axis was established when the parish was proclaimed as a training parish. Holy Cross has since then been a training institution for many highly regarded priests within the Diocese of Johannesburg.
There is a lot of work that was done in between these periods mentioned and now which we are proud of. We thank God for the wonderful work He has done within Holy Cross through His servants both clergy and lay persons.