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      Former Syracuse Catholic church to become Islamic mosque

      A closed Catholic church on Syracuse's North Side has been sold. It will be a place of worship, but the new owners are petitioning to take crosses off the building

      Syracuse's Holy Trinity has a new owner, and some major changes are coming for the former Roman Catholic church.

      As we first reported on Monday, the church, rectory and its old school, currently used for refugee and immigration programs, have been sold to the North Side Learning Center, a North McBride Street-based all-volunteer organization founded in 2009.

      Dr. Yusuf Soule, who heads up North Side Learning Center, confirms that his not for profit program has bought the campus and will lease the former church to a new Islamic society, which will name it 'Mosque of Jesus the Son of Mary' (Masjit Isa Ibn Maryam). The group is already working in the sanctuary, which Soule says has leaks in the walls and flooring after being vacant almost four years. Pews and benches, as well as the Christian symbols inside, have already been removed.

      North Side Learning has filed with the Landmark Preservation Board to remove the crosses from the steeples and grounds. The reason, in the petitions, "Due to new usage of the church as a place of worship for other religious group than used previously, where crosses on the building are not in line with the worshipping practices."

      The petition also requests permission to to put a 6-foot chain link fence around the property 'to increase security.' Soule says the group's current offices on North McBride at Butternut have seen several car break ins, and there are concerns.

      Holy Trinity, on Syrause's Park Street, was closed by the diocese in 2010 and the parish was merged with St. John the Baptist. Parishoners fought against plans to sell stained glass windows and the building's hand-crafted interiors. In 2012, the Landmark Preservation Board denied the request to remove the windows.

      The petition for the cross removal and the fence installation is before the Landmark Preservation Board at its April session. The North Side Learning Center and the new mosque hope to be ready to open, the end of June.