History of the Church
During 1966, while serving in the relatively comfortable surroundings of South Long Island as Parish Priest at St. Paulís Parish, Fr. Foster B. Pestaina was summoned by Bishop Bernard Markham to begin a new Parish in the eastern district of Nassau.
This venture was not the established and accepted norm. Both in the Bahamas and in many parts of the Anglican community around the world, Mission Churches grew out of established Parishes and eventually became self supporting Parishes. Not so with this new venture. Fr. Pestaina was now preparing to leave the large congregation of the St. Paulís Parish that he and his wife so immensely enjoyed, and give birth, so to speak, to a totally new Parish, Holy Cross Parish.
On Sunday, May 15, 1966, Fr. and Mrs. Pestaina said farewell to the close knit, happy community and parishional home they had grown to cherish. They now faced the overwhelming task of establishing this new Parish in strange surroundings with unknown persons.
The Pestainas took up residence in a rented house on Robinson Road, about half a mile west of Soldier Road. During the first week, the living and dining rooms of the house became the Sanctuary, one bedroom became the Sacristy, and another bedroom and kitchen became meeting rooms of the new Parish. Contact was made with potential parishioners during the first weekend, mainly by greeting persons on street corners in the area. Mass was offered for the first time on Sunday May 22, 1966.
The children of the area that attended the regular Saturday morning Mass, were most influential in the growth of the Parish. They were always around and they encouraged their parents to join this new worshipping community. They were also instrumental in beginning the first fund raising campaign.
A building committee was formed in August 1966, and through negotiations with the government, which Mr. Carver Grant (a former original member) so ably assisted, a 6 Ĺ acre track of land was purchased. This land was air-marked to house a Rectory, Parish Hall and Church.
The membership of the new Parish soon swelled to the carport and down the driveway of the rented residence. Having purchased a handsome track of land, the bold venture was undertaken to erect a Rectory and a Church Hall. Mr. Edward Williams was the contractor and Fr. Pestaina agreed to be the foreman. The Rectory was the first building to be erected and was blessed by Bishop Bernard Markham on Sunday May 17, 1967. Bishop Markham also laid the corner stone of the Parish Hall that same afternoon. Even though uncompleted, Mr. Edward Dawson Conliffe moved his personal organ into the Parish Hall and become the first organist as services began being held in the Hall during July 1967. The Parish Hall was eventually dedicated on December 10, 1967.
The Parish had now established a home!
With the now spacious facilities, Mrs. Pestaina formulated plans to form various youth organizations. With the help and untiring efforts of Mrs. Iris Knowles, Mrs. Beryl Higgs, Mr. John Davis (teacher) and Mr. Alex Gibson (Scout Commissioner), these planned organizations soon became realities.
Holy Cross grew steadily, both in membership and spiritually. However, Fr. Pestaina was given another assignment; he was transferred to Christ the King Parish in Freeport. He left Holy Cross on May 31, 1971, and was succeeded by Fr. Neil Roach who became Rector of Holy Cross Parish on July 1, 1971. Fr. Roach very soon proved to be a vibrant successor as he immediately began expanding on the spiritual foundation started by Fr. Pestaina.
The Main physical undertaking of any Parish is naturally, to construct the Parish Church Building. This was now the task of Fr. Roach. The designers of the Church building obviously did not view cost as an important factor. However, this was not a deterrent. Fr. Roach ďdug inĒ right from the very beginning. With the aid of his dedicated Vestry members and after numerous attempts, a mortgage was finally secured to construct the Church building.
The construction of the Church building began. This was truly an uphill battle. In spite of all the problems, a burdensome mortgage, skepticism and outright derision from some, through the leadership of Fr. Roach, and the diligent efforts of the majority of the membership, both construction and spiritual growth were engendered. On Holy Cross Day, September 14, 1986, The Lord Bishop of the Diocese, The Rt. Reverend Michael H. Eldon, consecrated Holy Cross Church Building. This building was not the traditional Anglican Church building, for even the skeptics now admire its beauty and aesthetic qualities.
The Rectory, Church Hall and Church building were in place. All planned building ventures were now completed. Fr. Roach was now able to fully concentrate on the spiritual growth of the Parish through the various ministries. His efforts are still very much evident today.
On September 1, 1997, after the retirement of Canon Roach, the Right Reverend Drexel Gomez appointed Reverend Fr. Laish Boyd, Rector of Holy Cross Parish. This young and invigorating Priest, the third of the Parish, must have envisioned the work started by Fr. Pestaina and carried on by Fr. Roach. Fr. Boyd expanded and enhanced the growth of ministries that he inherited. With his guidance, the growth of these ministries was such that he almost immediately saw the need to construct the Parish Center so as to facilitate their further development. This phase of the development of the Parish could not have been timelier. The corner stone of the Holy Cross Parish Center was consecrated on Holy Cross tide 2002, by His Grace, The Most Reverend Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies and Diocesan Bishop of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. His Grace dedicated the newly constructed Parish Center on September 19, 2004. Now, members of the Parish and person from the surrounding communities could utilize the developing grounds and the Centre as a means to continually develop both physically and spiritually meaningful social activities.
Much has been said about the three leaders with whom we at Holy Cross have been so spiritually blessed over the past 40 years. However, we all know that much of this development was also and is still being shouldered by Deacons and Priests who ably assisted and are still assisting in the development of Godís work here at Holy Cross. It would be impossible to realize the positive growth of this Parish and not appreciate the priceless contributions of Fathers McSweeney, Hamilton, Martin, Kabiga, Scott, Humes and Burrows. These gentlemen have not only pledged, they have in fact given their utmost support, and have imprinted indelible ideals within the hearts of the youth of this Parish. This reinforces the realization that Holy Cross will grow from strength to strength. After all, it all started with the Children!
Fr. Pestaina has returned to Holy Cross Parish as assistant Priest. His health has however limited his activities in Pastoral duties.
Contributions: Canon Foster B. Pestaina, Ms. Olga Bethel, Mr. Maxwell S.A. Turner