October 26, 2014
Sacred Heart Church will note its Centennial Sunday, Oct. 26 with a 10:30am Mass, celebrated by Bishop Patrick J. Zurek, followed by a Potluck Dinner in the Sacred Heart Parish Hall.
The story of Sacred Heart Church goes back to the first settlers who trickled into the area in the 1880s and 1890s. For Catholics, there were few choices for a church home.
The nearest Catholic priest was at Sacred Heart Monastery in Shawnee, Okla., where the Benedictines were conducting a school and also doing missionary work.
The only other Catholic Church that would have been considered ?close by? was near Old Tascosa. The oldest church in the Diocese of Amarillo, St. Mary?s Church in Clarendon, didn?t even come into existence until 1892 and even then was the first Catholic church to be erected north of Stanton.
The Benedictine Monks that took care of the Shawnee monastery and school occasionally came into the Texas Panhandle for missionary work. Their travels brought them to Fort Elliott, some 35 miles south of Canadian near Mobeetie, to care for the Catholic soldiers there.
Four years after Hemphill County was organized in 1888, Benedictine Father J.J. O?Reordan received permission to celebrate Mass in the courthouse. The first recorded baptism in Canadian took place in 1891 when Mary Josephine McMullan, age 7, and Samuel Houston, age 1, were baptized.
In the late 1900?s, a number of Catholic petitioned Bishop E.J. Dunne of Dallas to build a Catholic church in Canadian.
On Feb. 11, 1909, Bishop Dunne purchased two lots of land on Highland Street to build a church. The church, however, was never built at that site, because it was too far out of reach for some Catholics.
In February 1914, S.M. Hargrove donated two lots on the corner of Eighth and Kingman for a new church. Father Francis Hickey came to Canadian with the intent of building a church there. Unfortunately for him, he would die from injuries sustained in a car accident shortly after his arrival.
Benedictine Father Patrick McNamee, a missionary from St. George?s College in Shawnee, was asked to look over Canadian. Under his administration, the little frame church was completed in October 1914. It was named Sts. Peter and Paul Church.
Two reports on the cost of construction were recorded?one cost was $1,800; the other for $2,600. The Catholic Church Extension Society donated $500 toward the construction of the church and also donated statues of the Sacred Heart and the Virgin Mary. Seating capacity of the church was 80.
The first person baptized in Sacred Heart Church was Mrs. E.R. Cloyd, the daughter of S.M. Hargrove, who donated the land for the church.
In 1915, Bishop J.P. Lynch of Dallas appointed Father E.J. Cussen the first resident priest of the Canadian parish. On May 28, 1916, the church was formally dedicated by Bishop Lynch and renamed Sacred Heart Church, at the request of a number of donors to the church.
For most of the first 70 years of Sacred Heart Church, Vincentian priests who oversaw then-Holy Souls Church (later to be renamed St. Vincent de Paul Church) in Pampa, also took care of Sacred Heart Church. From 1948 to 1955, diocesan priests Monsignors Stanley Crocchiola and Monroe J. Matthiesen were appointed to the parish.
For nearly 66 years, the church building went unchanged. On July 13, 1980, ground was broken for an enlargement of the church. Everything but the foundation and framework were transformed. The new addition, cruciform in shape, as reported in The West Texas Catholic, joined the west end of the original structure and doubled the seating capacity from 80 to 160.
The enlargement resulted in the addition of a sacristy, a renovated sanctuary and two naves.
A basement was also built to house five permanent classrooms.
Cost of the expansion and remodeling was $275,000.
The remodeling also included new stained glass windows, designed by John Kebrle of Dallas, who at the time was president of the Stained Glass Association of America. Hand carved and painted Stations of the Cross from Italy were also installed during the renovation project.
Also added to the east side of the church was a 60-foot tall brick carillion tower. Adjacent to the church and bell tower is a bricked pergola, designed to shelter performers for outdoor concerts and programs. The church was formally rededicated on Oct. 18, 1981 by then-Bishop Leroy T. Matthiesen.
On March 6, 2011, Bishop Patrick J. Zurek blessed a new 5,311 square foot Parish Hall at Sacred Heart Church.
The new facility also houses the parish offices and classrooms for Faith Formation. It replaced a building that was moved to the parish property in the 1940?s, according to parish records.