Welcome to Sacred Heart Parish

In 1856 there were about 125 Catholics in Gardner. They attended Mass at St. Martin’s in Otter River since there was no Catholic Church in Gardner. That same year, the first Mass was celebrated in Gardner outdoors in a grove off Baker Lane. The parish history reads that “the women knelt on their shawls, the men held their caps in sincere reverence and the children watched the flicker of candles which each worshipper held.”

Eighteen years later, Mass would be celebrated in their new church which these people built on Cross Street. They dedicated it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Their collective prayer may well have been in some form or another, words we read from the first Book of Kings: “O Lord, my God… may your eyes watch night and day over this temple, the place where you have decreed you shall be honored.

In those days, the men worked first on the railroads, then in the furniture factories, while many of the women worked in the homes of some of Gardner’s more comfortable families.

By the year 1880, Gardner boasted 1,500 Catholics and Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish received its first pastor, Father Michael Murphy. All was going well until Friday, May 28, 1887 when the church was destroyed by fire. People watched in disbelief as the steeple crashed to the ground and in two hours the church was totally destroyed.

Though the church they worked so hard to build from their meager earnings was destroyed, the Parish, nevertheless, endured. They simply built a new church on the same site, which was dedicated in 1893. Over the years the people of Sacred Heart redesigned the interior of the church to accommodate the current liturgy and worship.

On July 1, 2009, for pastoral reasons Bishop Robert McManus, bishop of Worcester, established a shared pastoring dynamic between Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and its neighboring Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish. Currently, both parishes share the ministry of one pastoral team.

There are many wonderful ministerial opportunities at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish. Visit our parish’s school link and see a fully accredited educational program from Kindergarten to Grade 8. Also, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish provides affordable Day Care and Preschool in its “Caring Place.” Visit the link to the Caring Place and explore its services. If you are in the area on the first Saturday of October, come to the school’s annual Fall Festival. Or, if you are in the area any time in the year, come and join us for prayer and worship. All are welcome!