Switching from Catholic church to Mosque: Matt's Memo

The former Holy Trinity Church in Syracuse, NY.

You must adapt to survive. That is a fundamental of culture and communities. The north side of Syracuse has endured tremendous change over the last two or three generations. Signs remain of the German and Italian immigrants that once filled the neighborhood. But, they have incrementally faded.

Over the last 25 years new waves of immigrant culture have settled into streets that spur off Butternut and N. Salina. It has become a destination for refugees. Vietnamese found a home there, but also numerous other nationalities from Africa and other nations. It has created a patchwork of fresh diversity in the community.

The changing complexion makes the north side a critical area for teaching English and training new families while preparing them to become part of the local workforce. This week we reported on what amounts to a benchmark of the move from Western European immigrants to a dominance of other nations of origin. The former Holy Trinity Church was sold the NorthSide Learning Center. NorthSide will lease the building to an Islamic Society that will reopen the doors as a mosque.

Comments on and Facebook have stretched across the spectrum of possible reaction. Some people show every bit of the bigotry that leads to a broad generalization and misunderstanding of the Islamic faith. Muslims in Syracuse are pleased there will be a much needed additional mosque in the community. Some non-Muslims are appreciative that the vacant building will again be used as a place of worship.

Former parishioners of Holy Trinity are taking the change the hardest, but the true loss for many of them came years or even a generation ago. That's when the Catholic population departed for the suburbs. The new wave of immigrants have taken advantage of having a home where they can worship just as other newcomers to the country and our community did 100 years ago.


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