Holy Cross parish in Federal Hill was the first and oldest faith community established in the south Baltimore area. The parish was founded in 1858 as a mission of St. Alphonsus Church for the one thousand Catholics of German descent who lived in South Baltimore. Mass was first held in a room on the second floor of the St. Alphonsus School until a church building, begun in 1858, could be built.
After the Church was completed in 1860, Redemptorist Father John Hespelein became pastor. By 1864, because of the quick growth of the parish, he was assigned an associate.
Holy Cross School, the first Catholic school on Federal Hill, opened its doors in September 1855 with 60 children. By March 1857 ground was broken on a new and larger school on West Street. In 1866, the Sisters of Christian Charity came to staff the school. In 1972, the school merged with the previous Saint Mary, Star of the Sea and Our Lady of Good Counsel schools to become the South Baltimore Area Community School. In 1982, this consolidated school became the Catholic Community School of South Baltimore.
Within a decade, the mission church had grown to such proportions, that a German priest was recruited by the Redemptorists. The parish attained full status as Fr. Vogtmann, arrived and became pastor in 1869. He immediately began plans for a rectory which was begun in 1870 and completed in May 1871. In later years, this rectory was given to the Sisters of Christian Charity to be used as a convent. An addition was made to the church in 1885, including a towering steeple crowned with a copper cross. Rising two hundred feet, this landmark in South Baltimore was damaged in 1980 when powerful spring storms caused one of the four 1,000 pound steeple ornaments to fall through the church roof causing extensive damage to the sacristy.
Holy Cross marked its centenary in 1958. The parish moved from one made up of German immigrants to a parish of second and third generation Baltimoreans of many ethnic traditions. In 1980, over 500 people worshiped there weekly. The parish plant, stretching the entire even side of the 100 block of West Street, housed many ministries including Villa Louise, a Catholic Charities home for unwed mothers.
In the early 1990s, Father Joseph Maskell served as the pastor of Holy Cross. In May 1993, current Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski, was assigned to administer both Holy Cross and St Mary, Star of the Sea parishes and served in this capacity from 1993-1999. Fr. Tom Malia became pastor in 1999 and he was succeeded by Father Ray Martin in 2002, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel. It was at that time the three parishes of Holy Cross, St. Mary, Star of the Sea and Our Lady of Good Counsel came under direction of one leader, forming the Catholic Community of South Baltimore, though each still a separate canonical parish. Fr. Patrick Carrion succeeded Fr. Martin in January 2008.