Overview of the 118 year old tapestry we are weaving at Sacred Heart Church

HISTORIAN: Elizabeth Lenardi – historian@sacredheartcor.org

Our History: 120 years of devotion. As a community, we are nourished by the Eucharist, supported by each other, and uplifted by God’s blessings and by His many graces. May the presence of Jesus, His Mother, and His Sacred Heart guide us in our ways. May our vision always be centered on Him. “By our love for one another,” may all who see us know our discipleship.  May our next one hundred years be filled with the same grace and joy as the first one hundred.

Three lots were acquired but no church was built due to a lack of funds.  The community that was to become Sacred Heart gathered for Mass in a chapel arranged inside The Coronado Beach Building at 124 Orange Ave.  Father Antonio Ubach, who became a legend in his own time, celebrated the first Mass.

Mrs. T.J. Fisher donated the lot at 7th and B Street.  Her husband owned the drug store located in the Hotel Del Coronado.  For a time, Mrs. T.J. Fisher worked as the hotel housekeeper.  A committee, formed by Mrs. Fisher, raised the money to build our first church.  The church seated approximately 80 people. On Easter Sunday, the church was dedicated and the first mass was celebrated by Fr. Ubach.  Thereafter, Mass was celebrated every other week by priests who came from Old Town or New Town, later called San Diego…..

Father Robert Byrne became our first resident pastor.   Born in 1861, to Annie Garrett (from Nova Scotia) and Garrett J. Byrne (from Ireland), Fr. Byrne was raised in San Francisco with his five brothers and two sisters.  He was ordained at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.

Father Byrne’s resignation was followed by a series of priests including Fathers Stotters, P.J. McManus, W. Bettle, J.J. Sheehey, and Bannon.

Reverend James W. Collins (1852 – 1926) became pastor, a position which he held until 1924. Fr. Collins was born in Washington D.C. on December 19, 1852.  Upon the completion of his education, Cardinal Gibbons ordained him to the priesthood.  He became the Vice President of Georgetown University, but due to health issues and overwork, he moved to Coronado. Under his care and during the years around World War 1, the parish grew and thrived.  This resulted in the need for a larger church.  Fr. Collins called on the talents of Irving Gill, a leading architect, in the Los Angeles and San Diego regions.  He worked with Gill extensively, on the catholicity of the church.  Fr. Collins remarked, “The effect will be plainness, every surface, line, cover or emblem having a definite place and purpose in Catholic worship.” The cost of the church was $40,000.  Fr. Collins worked out the financial means to complete the construction.  He traveled back east to raise funds and encouraged donations, from residents of Coronado, in the amount of $1,000 or less.  The church was paid for in this manner.

Sacred Heart Church was dedicated by Bishop Cantwell of the Diocese of Monterey and Los Angeles. Bishop Cantwell said, ” Sacred Heart Church is one of the most perfect examples of eccleciastical architecture in California.”

The original church was moved to the current site of the parish hall and remodeled for this use. The old rectory, initially located on C Avenue, was relocated to the corner of Miguel and Pomona Avenues.

Father John Purcell was appointed pastor and guided the parish for thirty-five years.

Sacred Heart Parish School opened staffed by Benedictine sisters from Atchison Kansas.

The convent was built.

Father Purcell was elevated to the rank of domestic prelate by Pope Pius XII.  An installation Mass was held in the parish church on December 9, 1953.

Monsignor Purcell retired and was succeeded by Monsignor John R. Portman.

Sacred Heart Church was designated an historical site by the Coronado Historical Society.

Deacon Franklin Osgood was ordained as the first Permanent Deacon from and for Sacred Heart Church.

Father Michael Murphy was ordained at Sacred Heart Church.

Operation Facelift was undertaken to include major renovations designed to center the celebration of the Eucharist toward the altar.

Monsignor Portman retired and was succeeded by his co-pastor, Monsignor Jeremiah O’Sullivan.

Bishop Robert H. Brom appointed Fr. Michael F. Murphy as Pastor of Sacred Heart Church.