SACRED HEART PARISH – A BRIEF HISTORY
The history of Sacred Heart Parish dates from the early 1850’s. From these early years, the parish has been served by numerous priests, both as a mission and as a parish. The parishioners have shown to be a great faith community, as the parish erected its initial church building, rectory, cemetery, establishment of a separate school, the continued improvements and responded to liturgical changes.
In the early years, there were two Catholic settlements south of Teeswater – to the south-east was the Irish settlement and to the south-west was the Scotch settlement. The Teeswater baptismal register dates the first baptism at St. Patrick S Church in the Irish settlement on April 10. 1860. After a bitter dispute over the location of the church, Mass was never said there again after the 1860’s. People then went to the Scotch settlement or to Formosa.
The Teeswater parish was established in 1866, as a mission served by Formosa and Riversdale. These were the first parishes in Bruce County to have resident pastors in 1861. However, Mass was still said out in Culross.
Mass was first celebrated in Teeswater in the Village Hall on June 18, 1876 by Fr. L’Hiver, pastor of Riversdale. On August 25, 1876, Lot 316, Gordon Street was purchased and land clearing began. Fr. L’Hiver moved to Teeswater and served Riversdale, Holyrood and Kincardine as well.
The church building was started by Fr. Corcoran with the cornerstone being laid on May 26, 1878. The first services were held on September 15, 1878. The church cost $5,000 and could seat 400 people. At this time there were 80 families in the parish.
The rectory was next to be built, after Lot 226, Gordon Street was purchased in 1882. A brick horse stable was also built, which later became the first Catholic school in town in 1923.
There have been numerous changes to the church building over the years. A few of the changes have been outlined below and are shown in the accompanying photographs. Under Fr. Flahaven, the church building was enlarged in a westerly direction, with north and south wings as additions.
In the 1930’s, under the direction of Fr. Egan, the basement was excavated and a central heating system installed. A winter chapel was built in the north-west corner of the basement. The church interior was renovated in 1943.
In the 1960’s the rectory was renovated and a new sacristy and washrooms were built onto the west side of the church. The basement was dug down to its present depth, with a kitchen under the sacristy. This parish hall is home to many functions.
During the 1970’s, the church exterior was painted and brickwork pointed. There were also renovations done to the sanctuary. The interior was painted and carpeting installed.
There have also been numerous changes in the liturgical aspect over the years. In 1966, the church was renovated to comply with the norms of Vatican Il. To encourage greater participation by the laity, men acted as lectors and the Mass was said in English instead of Latin. The main altar was replaced by a mahogany altar and the priest now faced the people while celebrating Mass. The first extra-ordinary minister was appointed in 1975, now there are numerous parishioners as extra-ordinary ministers. Children’s liturgy, a program for two to seven year olds at the Sunday morning Mass was also started in 1989. To assist in the administration of the parish, a parish council was also formed with eight members elected.
Throughout the years, there have been a number of organizations. The present Catholic Women’s League, which received its charter on April 11, 1956 is active in religious, social, service and funding activities. There is an active Cemetery Board to look after the maintenance. Many parishioners are also active in the youth group, the choirs, Bible Study, lectors. children’s liturgy, ushers, altar servers and extra-ordinary ministers.
Included in this book is a pictorial history of our many pastors and their dates of service. To these many priests we owe a debt of gratitude. To our present pastor, Fr. Eugene Solecki, who came in 1990, we look forward to working with him to continue to build a vibrant faith community.
Sacred Heart Church, Teeswater. 1878 – 1978 Mildmay. The Town Crier, 1978.
All Our Yesterdays. A History of Cuirass Township, 1854 · 1954, Owen Sound: Stan Brown Printers, 1984.