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History of Sacred Heart Parish


The first recorded visit of a Catholic priest in this area was the visit of the Bishop of Galveston, Bishop Claude Mary Dubuis (1817 – 1895), who arrived at Fort Concho in July 1871.  At the time, the entire state of Texas fell under Bishop Dubuis’ jurisdiction.
The Bishop, along with his traveling companion Father Peter Tarrillion, the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Fredericksburg, was visiting the Texas forts and the surrounding countryside to find out how many Catholics had settled in the state and what their needs were.
During his visitation, the Bishop officiated at the marriages of a number of Mexican people living in the neighborhood.  He left the Concho Valley declaring his intention of establishing a church “near the mail station in Ben Ficklin.”
In 1874, a priest who can be called the founder of Sacred Heart Parish arrived in the Concho Valley.  His name was Father Mathurin J. Pairier.  He was a native of Redan, Bretagne, France where he was born around 1822. He had the care of Fort Davis and Fort Stockton and probably laid the foundation for the present St. Joseph’s Church, the oldest church building in the Diocese of San Angelo.  
Two significant events that affected the development of Sacred Heart Parish occurred in 1874.  First, on August 28, 1874, the Diocese of Galveston was split, and the territory in the south and west of the state was formed into the new Diocese of San Antonio.  Bishop Anthony Dominic Pellicer was chosen to be the Diocese’s first Bishop.  Second, on September 22, 1874, a San Antonio land developer named Bart J. DeWitt deeded to C. M. Dubuis, Bishop of Galveston, for the sum of $5, a parcel of land called the “Plaza of Saint Angela in the village of Saint Angela,”   This land included the entire block between Beauregard and Carolina (Harris), Oakes and Chadbourne, and was given “for the purpose of building a Catholic church thereon, or any buildings the said Bishop may want to build.
This was done in order to attract more respectable settlers to the little village renowned for its vices than its virtues.  It is difficult to determine what use Father Pairier made of this land until the mid-1880’s when a church was constructed on “the Catholic block.”  He offered Mass in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Lee on Beauregard until the church was completed in 1884.  The church was a red sandstone building, and when first finished only had a dirt floor.  The church was named Immaculate Conception Church.  The following July (1885), the Standard reported that further improvements had been made to the church including plastering the interior and addition of flooring and pews.

In 1885, Bishop Pairier requested help of another priest and Father John Sheehan arrived in San Angelo to help serve in the parish.   After becoming pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, one of the first projects was the establishment of a Catholic school for children of the parish.  In August 1888, three sisters arrived to teach, Mother Mary Raphael Albinger, Sister Mary Seraphim and Sister Augustine. The quarters they found would be temporary, a small three-room structure next to the church which would be used as a rectory, convent and school.  Immaculate Conception Academy opened its doors on October 1, 1888 to twenty students.  By the end of the month, there were sixty students in attendance. Father Sheehan also opened a second school that year, St. Peter’s School for Mexican children.  This school was conducted in a small adobe structure behind the building used by the academy.   In 1906, Father Pairier’s parish would be known as Sacred Heart.
Sacred Heart becomes a Cathedral

Catching many persons by surprise, the new Roman Catholic Diocese of San Angelo was announced on November 3, 1961.  The new Diocese had been officially established on October 16, 1961 by Pope John XXIII and Sacred Heart Church named the Cathedral, the symbolic seat of authority of the Bishop.   Monsignor Thomas J. Drury, then pastor of Christ the King Church in Lubbock, was assigned as the Diocese’s first Bishop.

The new thirty-four county Diocese was carved out of twenty four counties from Amarillo, five counties from Dallas-Fort Worth three counties from Austin and two counties from El Paso.  Church authorities estimated that the area had 51,000 Catholics out of a total population of 592,000.  On January 24, 1962, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Drury was consecrated a Bishop and installed as Ordinary of the Diocese of San Angelo.  
In a very lengthy ceremony on December 21, 1964, Bishop Drury consecrated Sacred Heart Cathedral, including the main altar, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, and the two side altars, one dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and the other to St. Joseph.  A large group of priests participated in the consecration and the laity attended a special Mass and Communion service later in the evening.  The ordination of the first priest from the parish was a joyful event.  Son of Mr. & Mrs. Harry Earls, Father Claude (Pat) Earls, O.S.B., celebrated his First Solemn Mass on June 13, 1965 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Cathedral Personnel

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Most Rev. Michael J. Sis,
Bishop

Rev. Joshua Gray,
Cathedral Administrator

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Freddy Medina
Deacon

Steve Zimmerman
Deacon

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Teresa Zimmerman
RCIA Director

Dominic Rivas
Secretary, Youth Minister

Carol Asbill
Secretary

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Thomas Buren
Facilities Manager

John Webber
Director of Cathedral Music Ministries