History of Sacred Heart

Our Rich History: Sacred Heart Catholic Church

1916: Foundation of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish

In February 1916, twenty-six-year-old Father Hubert Stehling called to order the organizational meeting of the members of Saint Johns Parish, who would make up Marshfield’s second Catholic parish. During this meeting, the name Sacred Heart of Jesus was chosen for the new parish.

It was decided to build what is now the school for use as a church, convent, school, and auditorium, with the rectory being a separate building. The cornerstone was laid on August 27, 1916. The first Mass was held on Christmas Eve 1916 in what is now the gymnasium. Construction costs were approximately $48,000 on a lot bought for $1,500. The congregation listed 150 families. This grew to 229 families in 1917. The school opened in September 1917.

1920s: Growth and Development

Father Stehling passed away on Christmas Eve 1922. Father Henry Toeller was named pastor on January 18, 1923. He immediately went forward with Father Stehling’s plan to build a new convent due to the school’s enrollment of 240 students. The house immediately south of the school was bought for $4,200, and the nuns lived in it for one year. By September 1924, a new convent had been built and furnished at a cost of $35,000. This building served for 63 years until it was razed in 1987 due to prohibitive maintenance costs.

By January 1927, the parish was debt-free. In 10 years, this young parish had paid off approximately $90,000 in addition to its current operating costs, an amazing accomplishment for that period.

In 1927, Father Toeller spoke of the need for a new church in the coming years to replace the auditorium/church, which was becoming too small to accommodate the growing congregation. The school, with 310 students for the 1930-31 school year, was also crowded. In March 1931, the congregation voted to build a new church. However, due to the economic conditions at the time, the needed funds could not be raised, and the project was postponed.

1930s: Construction of a New Church

The crowded conditions continued. Contributions to a church building fund grew to $14,000. The architect assured the group that a suitable church and a four-room addition to the school could be built for no more than $65,000. Parishioners were asked to voluntarily raise sufficient funds to start the project. Within one week, $24,000 was pledged. All pledge cards were returned signed, even by those who were unemployed, promising to help when they found work.

The bid for the construction was $53,000, excluding plumbing, heating, and electrical work. Due to the Depression, prices were at an all-time low. It was believed the project would have cost $100,000 in normal economic times. The cornerstone was laid on June 19, 1932. Construction progressed smoothly, with less than a half workday lost due to rain or bad weather. The dedication of the beautiful Tudor Gothic-style church by Bishop Alexander McGavick took place on November 11, 1932. In September 1932, school enrollment was 346.

Groundbreaking for the New Hall

On Sunday, May 14th, 2023, a momentous occasion took place as Sacred Heart Catholic Church celebrated the groundbreaking for the new hall. This exciting project marks a significant milestone in the church’s history and its commitment to serving the community. With the groundbreaking, Sacred Heart Catholic Church embarks on a new chapter of growth and development.

The new hall will provide additional space for various community activities, gatherings, and events. It is a testament to the ongoing dedication and vision of the parishioners in creating a welcoming and thriving spiritual hub.

As Sacred Heart Catholic Church moves forward with the construction of the new hall, the community eagerly anticipates the countless memories, connections, and experiences that will be fostered within its walls.

At Sacred Heart Catholic Church, we cherish our rich history and look forward to the exciting future ahead as we continue to serve our community and strengthen our bonds.

Priests who have served at Sacred Heart

Father Edmund Cramer 3-13-42 to 7-9-52
Father Edwin Knauf 7-9-52 to 11-7-54
Father Lavern Timmerman 11 -17-54 to 6-17-67
Father Peter Leketas 6-18-67 to 7-1-95
Father Robert Schaller 7-18-95 to 11-17-98
Father Jerome Gerum 11-17-98 to 7-6-99
Father Anthony Wolf 7-6-99 to 7-13-04