Our Parish History
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was established as a parish in Hilltown in April 1919. Although the new parish covered almost 50 square miles, only 25 people attended the first Mass. A building fund was started and work soon began on construction of a church. The new church building was blessed and the first Mass was celebrated in December 1919.
As the parish grew, the desire for a school began to develop. In July 1927, a second story was added to the church to provide classrooms in the front and convent quarters in the rear. The classrooms were staffed by the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Depression brought hard times to the Parish. Then World World II began and many parishioners found jobs in defense industries and moved away to be nearer to their work. Again parish finances and progress were disrupted.
With most roads still unpaved, gasoline rationed, and long distances to travel, many found it difficult to attend Mass. A mission was established in Dublin to bring the church closer to the families in the upper reaches of the parish. A commercial garage was converted into a chapel and the first Mass was celebrated there on Christmas Day, 1944.
The end of World World II marked the beginning of large-scale migration to the suburbs. The parish began a period of steady growth. Before long, it became evident that the new families signaled a need for larger facilities. In July 1950, two areas of land were purchased on the opposite side of Broad Street a short distance from the church. The land acquisition program continued from 1955 to 1958 for the tract of 12 acres which now extends between Broad Street and Hilltown Pike.
As growth continued, plans for a new school got underway. The school was completed in October of 1957. Then, as the Sunday Masses became overcrowded, the 10:00 a.m. Mass at Hilltown was moved to the school in the autumn of 1958.
By 1959, the parish had grown to some 350 families and more than 750 attended Mass every Sunday. However, the school debt remained large and little thought could be given to building a new and larger church. Therefore, a fourth Sunday Mass was added at Hilltown in May 1961 and a fifth in April 1962.
The school debt was finally liquidated in 1972 and a building fund for a new church was established. But school expenses remained high, forcing a postponement of building plans.
The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart left Hilltown at the conclusion of the 1978-79 term after 52 years of service, and the convent was closed. The school was consolidated with St. Agnes in Sellersville and the merger was taken over by the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Sellersville convent with grades 1 – 3 taught in Sellersville and grades 4 – 8 taught in Hilltown.
The first Mass was celebrated in the new church on Christmas Eve, 1979. From that point on, the five Sunday Masses at Hilltown and two at Dublin were cut to four. The mission in Dublin was closed and the property sold. The original church continues to be used for Daily Masses, small weddings, and funerals.
As Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish continued to grow and flourish, it became evident that our church was no longer adequate to handle the ever increasing membership. The Archdiocese gave us permission to go forward with the following improvements: increased seating, from 500 to 950 plus, permanent pews, and beautification and enlargement of our Church and parking areas.
Several hundred parishioners participated in the Campaign Fund for pledges and were successful in exceeding the Archdiocese building requirement of $800,000. We are most grateful for the wonderful support, enthusiasm, and generosity of our parish.
Construction started in October 1999. During that period of renovation, Mass was being held in the gymnasium of Our Lady of the Heart School.
The new church was completed in September of 2000. The first Mass was celebrated at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 16, 2000 with a full house and much applause.
Through snow, sleet and freezing rain, Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua arrived to dedicate the church on January 20, 2001. The ceremony was beautiful and all of the invited clergy managed to make the trip in spite of the weather.
Cardinal Bevilaqua stayed after the Mass to meet the parishioners at a special reception held in the school gymnasium. From a handful of people at the first Mass in 1919, the Parish was now grown to more than 1600 families.