Sacred Heart Church History
336 Main Street
Yarmouth, ME 04096-7933
1848 ~ Irish Catholic workmen, following the growth of the railroads, settled in the Yarmouth area with their families. They found this bustling seaside shipbuilding center to be an agreeable place to live.
1856 ~ According to local tradition (and a history written in 1928 by Rev. John Connolly), the first Mass was said in Yarmouth on November 12 of this year in the home of Patrick Doran. Thereafter, the families took turns hosting Mass, which at first was celebrated only once every two or three months and always on a weekday. In order to worship in a church on a Sunday, the faithful traveled, often on foot, the 12 miles to Portland.
1878 ~ In the beginning of this year the heads of ten Irish Catholic families, eager for their own church, met in the Doran home with a priest from Portland. They were joined by two prominent non-Catholic men, Cyrus Sargent and Dr. James Bates who offered both moral and financial support. Before the year was half over, the necessary funds had been raised, land on Cumberland Street had been purchased, and ground was broken. By the end of July a sturdy little edifice, costing $1700, was dedicated “under the title and patronage of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” and served the parish for the next thirty-two years.
1900 ~ The Sacred Heart community continued to grow as Acadian French mill workers moved to the area with their families. The parish was first a mission church of Portland and later of Lisbon. Reverend James A. Flynn, who was appointed to head the missions, purchased a house on Cumberland Street near the church to use as his rectory.
1910 ~ Sacred Heart was served by five priests in quick succession; then in April of this year the Bishop names the Reverend Joseph D. Quinn to lead the parish. He remained as the pastor for the next twenty-seven years. Soon after his arrival, Father Quinn purchased land with a house and a barn on Main Street. The house immediately became the new rectory (which is the same rectory used today) and, by year’s end, the spacious barn had been transformed into a well-appointed church in which Mass was first celebrated on January 1, 1911. Two years later the barn-turned-chapel was destroyed by a fire.
1915 ~ Father Quinn bought the historic riverside property and the following year dedicated it as Holy Cross Cemetery. From what we can determine, for the next seven years Mass was said in the back of the Main Street rectory. During this time, as the Catholic community entered an unprecedented period of growth, it became clear that a larger, more permanent place of worship was needed
1916 ~ Freeport joined Sacred Heart parish as a mission church. An inaugural Mass was said on November 16th in Davis Hall. Freeport later went on to build their own church building, although continued to remain a part of our parish family as St. Jude’s Church. Six years later the mission in Falmouth Foreside was established which eventually became Holy Martyrs parish.
1920 ~ Ground was broken for the present day Sacred Heart Church in April. Architecturally unlike any other church in the area, it was built in the grand Romanesque style by master stone mason, Charles Knight, Sr., using stone from a quarry in Pownal.
1921 ~ On Labor Day, the cornerstone was blessed and placed in position. Construction continued over the next couple of years with the men of the parish assisting with the labor.
1928 ~ As the local economy started to slow, the decision was made to go ahead and dedicate the church although the interior was still unfinished. The church was dedicated and a historical retrospective was written and presented to the pastor. Around this time, Father Quinn bought the land for the mission church in Freeport.
1937 ~ Father Quinn moved to Millinocket and was succeeded by Reverend Edward F. Walsh who led the parish through the Depression, World War II and beyond. Faced with a shortage of money and materials, Father Walsh found a practical solution to the unfinished interior. He put up wallboard, installed a false ceiling, and built a choir loft which covered the rose window.
1954 ~ Reverend James A. Daly was appointed pastor and shepherded the flock during the next 13 years of growth, peace and prosperity.
1967 ~ Reverend Henry Pender succeeded Father Daly, followed by Reverend Frances LeTourneau.
1973 ~ Reverend Charles M. Murphy, who had been a curate here under Father Daly, returned as Pastor and was later named a Monsignor. Under his guidance, church life flourished. At this time, as part of Sacred Heart’s centennial celebration, the interior of the church was restored to reflect the original plans of Father Quinn, which included exposing the wooden beams of the vaulted ceiling and uncovering the magnificent rose window. Msgr. Murphy left the parish in 1978 and Father Conrad L’Heureux arrived to head the parish for the next six years.
1984 ~ Reverend Roger Chabot began his pastorate and oversaw more growth and change – the expansion of the music ministry, the adoption of a sister parish in Haiti, the addition of an exterior handicap access ramp, and the installation of a handsome oak-encased restored and rebuilt pipe organ, made possible by the efforts of the whole parish community.
1992 ~ Reverend Richard O’Donnell was appointed pastor and during his eight year stay the church hall underwent a major renovation, transforming it from a basement into a viable and attractive meeting place
2000 ~ Sacred Heart begins the new millennium with a new pastor, Father Paul Stefanko, who looks forward to guiding our parish in the growth of our relationships with God and among one another.
2005 ~ Sacred Heart Parish welcomes Fr. Raymond Picard as it’s new pastor!
2011 ~ Sacred Heart and St Jude join with St Gregory and Holy Martyrs to combine into the Parish of the Holy Eucharist!
1910 – 1937 Fr. Joseph Quinn
1937 – 1954 Fr. Edward Walsh
1954 – 1967 Fr. James Daly
1967 – 1968 Fr. Henry Pender
1968 – 1973 Fr. Frances LeTourneau
1973 – 1978 Fr. Charles M. Murphy
1978 – 1984 Fr. Conrad L’Heureux
1984 – 1992 Fr. Roger Chabot
1992 - 2000 Fr. Richard O’Donnell
2000 - 2005 Msgr. Paul Stefanko
2005 - 2010 Fr. Ray Picard
2010 - 2012 Fr. Joseph Ford
2012 current - Fr. Daniel Greenleaf