Our History

Olsh_drawing(Text prepared by Marty Suffoletto)

The growth of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish from a mission church to the present complex of building and community of people has been generated by three dedicated priests. Rev. Msgr. Nelson Baker, Rev. John S. Doyle, and Rev. Msgr. Dino J. Lorenzetti. Each in turn with faith, hope, and vision served as father and confessor to this parish family. Our forefathers were settlers of Irish and German decent, joined by Italian immigrants, employed by the expanding steel companies. Their requests in 1920 prompted Fr. Baker our founder, to construct a simple wooden church near Lake Avenue, in the area referred to as “The Hill”. This Mission Chapel at Windom was also used as a school, housing 45 students and staffed by Brothers of the Holy Infancy.

On April 1, 1929 the mission church was completely demolished by a tornado. A new brick building, replacing it , was dedicated on October 12, 1929. For the ensuing thirty years, this building (still standing) was the center of worship. A succession of assistant priests from Our Lady of Victory traveled each week to minister and care for the spiritual needs of the people. In June of 1949, the church was raised from mission status to a parish, entitled Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

Father John S. Doyle was assigned as the first pastor.

The second period of our history for the next twenty eight years, from 1949 to 1977 was characterized with rapid growth and expansion. A congregation of 425 families soon increased to 1600 families. A rectory was built in 1954; a school was completed in 1959, a convent near Willet Road was purchased in 1962 and a new church was erected in 1965. In 1967 , a fire broke out in the sacristy of the new church, causing extensive damage but thankfully no injuries or complete destruction resulted. On January 3, 1977 , parishioners were stunned to hear about the death of their beloved pastor. Through all the years, he had shared in the joys and sorrows while establishing a faith community commonly called ” Fr. Doyle’s .”

The third period, the last nineteen years proved to be a continuation of accomplishments and achievements by Fr. Dino Lorenzetti, Fr. Doyle’s successor. Parishioners soon learned that the rectory door was always open to them and that this man of hospitality listened patiently. Under Msgr. Lorenzetti’s leadership, a congregation of 3,400 families witnessed a building up of new and existing organizations, an updating of the Liturgy, an enhancement of parish building (including installation of sound system and organ, renovation of the church vestibule), the beautification of the grounds, the sale of the old convent, the acquisition of West Seneca #5 school the conversion of the old church into the present convent and chapel.

The love and labor exhibited by Monsignor during his pastorate until his retirement on July 1996, matched that of Fr. Baker and Fr. Doyle.

All three had been holy, remarkable men, contributing unselfishly to the betterment of the parish, God entrusted in their care.