St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church began in west Atlanta at the invitation of Bishop Francis E. Hyland of the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta in 1954. The Passionists accepted this mission in the South with a focus on serving the religious needs of African-American families. Passionist pastors and associates have maintained a vibrant cultural tradition through prayerful worship, education, and service. St. Paul's was the first Passionist parish to have an African-American pastor and assistant, Fathers Melvin Shorter and Michael Greene, respectively. Originally staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph and lay teachers, St. Paul of the Cross Elementary School has been a stable presence in the parish and neighboring community. Children from the school were among the first African-Americans to enter Atlanta Catholic high schools and the University of Georgia
Over the years many Passionist seminarians experienced ministry training in the summer parish programs. As a center of faith for numerous African-American Catholics, many St. Paul of the Cross parishioners continue to be living witnesses working to end racism and to foster interracial and multi-cultural harmony in Atlanta and throughout the United States.
To the present day, parish service programs have relied upon the success of Boy and Girl Scout programs, an array of volunteer efforts, pilgrimages, special projects, such as a health clinic, city housing projects, hunger and food drives, and the annual AIDS Walk. In the late 1990s an increased Passionist outreach to Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Archdiocese of Atlanta was initiated.