For close to six decades, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church on Syracuse's north side was Anna Giannantomio's church. She fought the Catholic Diocese decision to close it in 2010. While she believes everyone should be free to practice the religion they choose - she doesn't understand why a new Islamic society wants to remove the crosses and move into the historic catholic church.
"This place was put into historical preservation and rightfully so," said Giannantomio.
Holy Trinity was recently purchased by the North Side Learning Center, a volunteer group that assists refugees and immigrants. North Side Learning Center will lease the church to an Islamic society which would rename it Mosque Of Jesus The Son Of Mary. The North Side Learning Center has also filed a request with the Landmark Preservation Board to remove the crosses on the steeples and grounds.
Professor Margaret Thompson from Syracuse University's Maxwell School says nearly 75% of refugees settling in Syracuse are Muslim and that religious freedom has been bringing immigrants to America for hundreds of years.
"Holy Trinity was founded to welcome German immigrants to Syracuse when it was originally built and now its welcoming a new cohort of immigrants," said Thompson.
Anna Giannantomio wants everyone to have a place to worship. She immigrated from Italy as a teenager and understands the discrimination many Muslims face in America but Giannantomio wishes the church that welcomed her to the U.S. would stay a Catholic church.
"I don't want to hurt anybody but the building should remain as it is," said Giannantomio.
The North Side Learning Center is now making repairs to the buildings. They hope the mosque will be ready to open in June.