By Lisa Kochanowski
SOUTH BEND — More than 120 people gathered at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the parish. The special Mass was celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades along with Father John Delaney, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, in the building that was filled with members from the past and children of the future. Immediately after Mass, Bishop Rhoades held a blessing at the Mount Calvary Cemetery attended by members of the congregation. The rest of the morning concluded with a social gathering and potluck at the parish social hall where visitors enjoyed food, fellowship and activities.
“Today’s feast, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), came into being more than seven centuries ago. The Church felt the need for a special celebration to express with greater intensity her faith and her joy in the amazing gift of the Holy Eucharist. It is wonderful that we are celebrating the 80th anniversary of your parish on this beautiful feast. The most Holy Eucharist is the center of the Church’s life. It is the center of the life of every parish. And there is a profound connection between the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the title of this parish. Recall that water and blood flowed from the pierced heart of Jesus on the cross. The water and blood represent the two chief sacraments of the Church, Baptism and Eucharist. The sacraments are gifts to the Church from the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” said Bishop Rhoades to the congregation.
In early 1932, Holy Cross Father James Burns, provincial of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, requested permission from Bishop John F. Noll to establish a parish of the Holy Cross Order in or near the city of South Bend. Holy Cross Father Peter Miner was appointed the task of surveying the area to assess the need for a new church. By December of 1932, a decision was made to create a church. The abandoned Pleasant View School building was cleaned and on Dec. 18, Masses were celebrated at 8 and 10 a.m.
Eventually a well-known horse trader and devout Catholic, bequeathed two acres of land for the building of a Catholic church and rectory. This was happening during the time of the Depression and Sunday collections from the small congregation were meager. However, the contribution of many, many hours of labor was a great help in the building of the new brick church and rectory.
On June 23, 1933, the formal dedication ceremonies took place with dignitaries of the clergy present as well as church members and non-Catholic neighbors who helped with the construction.
In later years farmland was purchased for classroom space and to create the Mount Calvary Cemetery, new office space and a bedroom were added to the rectory and the church underwent upgrading.
A red brick building was constructed with the purpose of holding religious education classes in May of 1972. The walls are moveable so that the building could be used for parish social functions as well.
“This parish, with the title Sacred Heart of Jesus, like the whole Church, is nourished and strengthened by the fountain of living waters which flow from the Heart of Christ. The Holy Eucharist is, as Pope Paul VI once said, ‘the outstanding gift of the Heart of Jesus.’ It is the sacrament of love par excellence. I encourage you on this feast of Corpus Christi to be devoted both to the Holy Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus — these devotions are intimately connected. The Eucharist is the gift of the loving Heart of Jesus,” said Bishop Rhoades.
“In reflecting on today’s Gospel of the hungry multitude fed by Jesus when He multiplied the loaves and the fish, I thought of your ancestors in the faith here at Sacred Heart, devout Catholics hungry for the Bread of Life, the sacred Body and Blood of the Lord. Their hunger was satisfied when this church was dedicated. Today, the feast of Corpus Christi, the whole Church gives thanks to God for the great gift of the Holy Eucharist. And, gathered together at this Mass, we also thank God for the establishment of this parish, this Eucharistic community. We remember the many priests, religious and lay faithful who sacrificed to build this church and who have been generous with their time, talent and treasure through the past 80 years,” continued Bishop Rhoades, who challenged the congregation to go out and live their faith and the Eucharist with the community. He invited people to be grateful to the many volunteers who created the parish and continue to keep it running.
“My brothers and sisters, as we celebrate this beautiful feast of Corpus Christi and the 80th anniversary of Sacred Heart Parish and church, let us be renewed in our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the most precious gift Jesus left to His Church. The Eucharist is the Church’s greatest treasure,” said Bishop Rhoades.
He continued, “I am committed to the future of your parish community. You will grow and flourish if you are devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. May the Eucharist strengthen you to live our Catholic faith with conviction and to spread that faith to others as a true evangelizing community. Invite others to join the parish. I ask you to be especially attentive to the Christian formation and catechesis of the children and young people of the parish. And always reach out with the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the poor, the sick and the suffering of this area of the Lord’s vineyard. Like those who built this parish and church 80 years ago, may you be generous servants of the Lord and His Church! May the Holy Eucharist always strengthen you in your holy mission.”
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