Sacred Heart Parish celebrates 150 years in the community
Bishop Robert McManus addresses the congregation.
WEBSTER – Sacred Heart of Jesus celebrated its 150th anniversary as a parish at a special Mass Sunday, June 13. Guests included Bishop Robert McManus of the Worcester Diocese, priests, curates and other members of the religious community as well as state and local dignitaries, and more than 150 parishioners and friends of Sacred Heart.
The liturgical celebration, originally scheduled for June 2020, was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Delaying the commemoration until 2021 gave the parish the opportunity to celebrate two additional milestones: 125th anniversary of the Church building and 25th anniversary of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
State Senator Ryan Fattman, holding son Harrison, gives brief remarks, which were preceded by the reading of a state resolution by Representative Joseph McKenna.
At the Mass, Representative Joseph McKenna read a state resolution marking the milestone and highlighting the accomplishments of the parish over the past 150 years. State Senator Ryan Fattman, while holding his toddler son Harrison, followed with brief remarks. He cited Luke 6:46-49 about the man who built his house and laid the foundation deep within a rock so the storms and winds could not shake it. “This speaks volumes to exactly the type of parish that has been built here,” he said. Music for the liturgy featured several musicians and the Church’s pipe organ console that dates to the 1920s.
Sacred Heart Parish traces its roots to French Canadian immigrants living and working in the area who were interested in celebrating Mass in the manner and language to which they accustomed in Canada. The first Church, located on the corner of Slater and East Main streets, was purchased from a Methodist Church and was the home of Sacred Heart from 1870 to 1896 when the current Church was built with materials imported from Canada.
“When the founding mothers and fathers of the Parish came from Canada, they brought very little with them,” said Bishop McManus in his address to the congregation. “Most of them did not bring a word of English. They came with hardly any money and few material goods. But what they did bring was a profoundly deep and unshakable Catholic faith…. With tremendous effort and because of their faith they built this extraordinary magnificent Church for the greater honor and glory of God. What they lacked in finances, they found in faith.”
Reverend Adam Reid, pastor of Sacred Heart, shared the significance of the milestones in a letter to the parish. “We are the living legacy of the efforts of our French-Canadian parish founders’ lived faith,” he said. “We celebrate our rich history but do not seek to dwell in the past…. We now look to enter into the next chapter of our parish history by first re-experiencing and perhaps in some cases discovering for the first time, a profound and life changing relationship with our Jesus Christ.”
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, located in the Emmaus Center across the street from the Church. Opened in 1996, the Chapel serves the region as a spiritual sanctuary of perpetual adoration, operating round the clock, thanks to a legion of volunteers who are scheduled in hourly shifts.
The mission of Sacred Heart is to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ through worship, outreach and education. The parish offers some 30 liturgical and social outreach ministries. In addition, Sacred Heart serves the larger community as the hub of operations for the St. Vincent dePaul Society, as the epicenter of worship at the 24-hour-a-day Emmaus Chapel, and as a partner with St. Louis Parish in instilling Christian values in today’s youth at All Saints Academy.