Sacred Heart Catholic Church

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Parish History

Parish History

The history of Catholicism in Johnson County and Sacred Heart Parish began with the pioneer priests of the ealy nineteenth century. A tradition of the parish is that Fr. Bernard Donnelly, not long after he came to the Kansas City area (1845), rode horseback from Lee's Summit to Warrensburg to baptize a baby. It is known that Fr. Donnelly visited the County and recorded the baptisms and marriages he witnessed at St. Mary's Church in Independence, though none can be positively identified with Warrensburg. Beginning in May of 1859 until July of 1865, Fr. Edward Hammill, pastor of Lexington, visited Warrensburg and Knob Noster from time to time. Travel was not easy and during the Civil War, it was not safe.

Johanna Crowley and Ambrose Daly, who were both baptized on May, 1859, are the first baptisms in Warrensburg attested to by records. Tim Honovan and Mary Cournan married April 22, 1864 is the first marriage. Fr. Hamill baptized 58 infants during this time and witnessed 7 marriages of families whose names subsequently appear in Warrensburg records. When in Warrensburg, Fr. Hamill offered Mass at James Daly's home in "Old Town" (Ewing Cockrell, "History of Johnson County" 1918).

In the archives of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, there are compilations of the annual reports of the parishes then in the Archdiocese. The church at Warrensburg, called St. Mary's, was first mentioned in 1865; it was noted that the parish was attended from Tipton. On June 21, 1866, this source shows, land was purchased and on July 4, 1867, a Rev. John Gruender laid the corner stone for a church (said to have been adobe and cost $3,000) to be built under the auspices of Rev. H.V. Kalmer of Tipton. The church was located on the north side of Culton between Warren and Mulberry Streets, Lot #63.Records relating to Warrensburg were found at St. Andrew's Church in Tipton, and include 51 baptisms and 5 marriages. In 1867, Fr. Hugh Murray, a newly ordained priest, was made pastor. He lived at St. Patrick's Parish in Sedalia, and recorded there the 108 baptisms and 8 marriages celebrated with Warrensburg families. The first marriage in the new church was that of Michael Farrell and Margaret Burns on January 25, 1869.

The next priest, Fr. Michael G. Mackin was named pastor here and also of Holden in 1870. He lived in Holden. For part of the years, 1871-1873, Fr. Eberhard Gahr, OSB, served both parishes and began our own parish records with the baptisms of Thomas Daly, son of James Daly and Helena O'Neil, on November 12, 1871. 

Parish records show: "April 1st, 1871. We the undersigned do agree and promise to pay the sum opposite our names for the purpose of supporting a priest. the said priest to be stationed at Warrensburg, MO: James Conroy, Joseph Logsdon, S. Logsdon, Ambrose Logsdon, James Kline, William Burns, John Moynahan, James E. Negley, Edward Kelly, John Cahill, James Daly, James Logsdon, Joseph Weldick, Thomas Lawler" (local church records).

These men pledged $188 annually. The request was presented to the Archbishop of St. Louis, but was not granted until 1885.

In 1873, Fr. James Phelan became Pastor, and attended the parish from Holden until early 1882. From February 1882 to August 1885, the parish was served by Fr. Joseph Ascheri, from Holden and the records for this period are at Holden. In 1880, the parish became a part of tne newly established Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. 

In 1885, Fr. William T. Sherry was assigned to Warrensburg as the first resident pastor. Before Fr. Sherry came, the first church had been condemned and Mass was being held in a hall over the Gilkeson store. The parish purchased the property at Washington and Ming Streets and began the building of the church. It was completed in 1887, at the cost of $6,000.

While Fr. Andrew G. Clohessy (1889-1891) was pastor, a rectory was built on the east side of the church. After Fr. Colhessy, the pastors were Frs.: John J. Hogan (1891-1893), James T Walsh (1893-1894), George B. Curry (1894-1896), Thomas F. Prendergast (1896-1905), Peter Kilkenny (1905-1908), Dennis J. O'Driscoll (1808-1913), and M.J. Lyons (1913-1916).

At the turn of the century, in conjunction with a national trend of more Catholics attending state schools, the Newman Apostolate was begun for students attending what is now University of Central Missouri. Together with missions of LaMonte and Knob Noster, this constitues much of the history of the parish.

After Fr. Lyons, the pastors were: Francis S. McCardle (1916-1920), Patrick J. Kennedy (1920-1936), John A. Biter (1936-1940), Peter J. Donahue (1940-1942), Valentine A. Schroeger (1942-1944), Edward M. Owens (1944-1948), and Lawrence W. Burk (1948-1957).   

Fr. John S. Murphy became pastor in March, 1957 and in April, 1958, the parish received its first assistant, Fr. Donald Sturm. With the formation of the Diocese of Jefferson City in 1956, the mission of LaMonte became part of Sacred Heart Parish in Sedalia. With a permanet chaplain at Whiteman Air Force Base the mission church in Knob Noster was closed in August, 1958. In June of 1958, ground was broken for a parish hall and rectory, both buildings were dedicated December 14, 1958. Classrooms were added to the parish hall and it became a school. The school was staffed by Sisters of St. Francis, Nevada, Mo. The school closed in the spring of 1969.   

Pastors were: John J. Murphy (1962-1963), Ernest J. Fiedler (1963-1969), who led the parish into the liturgical changes called for by Vatican II with a complete interior renovation of the church, Leo J. Ruggle (1969-1970), A.F. McGuire (1970-1972), Patrick J. Gillgannon (1973), C. Michael Coleman (1973-1979), Hugh F. Monahan (1979-1983), Charles P. Tobin (1983-1989).  

During Fr. Tobin's pastorate and as preparation to celebrate the centennial of the parish church, the interior was completely renovated.

In July, 1989, Fr. Bill Walter, C.PP.S., was appointed pastor, marking a new transition for the parish, now under the care and guidance of the Society of the Precious Blood.    

In March, 1997, construction began on a new Parish Worship Space, meeting rooms, class space and office complex. To help accomplish this construction, all Sacred Heart properties were sold to Central Missouri State University. The new church and building was blessed and dedicated on December 8, 1998 by Bishop Raymond J. Boland.

The previous Precious Blood pastors are: Fr. Dennis Schaab, C.PP.S. (1999-2008); Fr. James Urbanic, C.PP.S. (2008-2011), was also provincial of the Society of the Precious Blood whiling serving as pastor; Fr. Joe Miller, C.PP.S., (July 1, 2011- June 30, 2016),; and Fr. Joe Bathke, C.PP.S.  (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2021).