“As early as 1835 Mass was said in Columbia by Rev. Father LaFevre at the residence of John H. Lynch, whose family was the only one of the Catholic faith in the town at the time.” Switzler’s History of Boone County - 1881
It was not until 1876-77 that Mass was celebrated on a regular basis and a parish was established. Mass was first said in homes and then at a more central location, the County Courthouse. Bishop Ryan offered the first Mass in the Courthouse on June 3, 1877.
While Mass was held in the Courthouse, a new church was being built on the corner of Locust Street and Grand Avenue. Catherine Lynch Clapp is given much of the credit for the new church building. “It was she who secured the greater part of the subscription, who superintended in a great part of the construction of the building, and saw to the proper furnishings and equipment, and who subscribed herself sums of money much beyond her means.”
The first Mass in the new church was held on June 19, 1881, and finally in 1886, the church was dedicated. In 1908, Fr. Thomas Lloyd, pastor, visioned a new and bigger church. “The parish was showing a healthy growth, and each year more students were coming to the University to continue their studies.” Fr. Lloyd desired a building that would serve the parish for many years and which would leave upon the minds of the students, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, “a lasting impression of the worth and beauty of the Catholic religion.” The old frame church was moved back on the lot to make room for the new structure. Work progressed and, as the new stone church took shape, the parishioners watched with pride and anticipation. The cornerstone was laid on Feb. 22, 1914. Early in the morning of August 18, Fr. Lloyd was awakened by the sister superior of the school. The barn adjacent to the old church was on fire. Fr. Lloyd hurried to the church before the flames reached it, but was helpless to do anything to stop the fire. By the time the fire department arrived the old church was beyond saving.
The new church was dedicated on Nov. 8, 1914 by Archbishop Glennon. The total cost of the new construction was $30,000, and all but $800 of it was paid at the time of dedication. The 50 families who comprised the membership of Sacred Heart financed the project entirely by donations.
Today, Sacred Heart’s history and tradition continue to draw new parishioners, with members coming from over 38 countries. At the beginning of Advent each year, the community is invited to the Annual Sacred Heart Christmas Bazaar.
Credit: Sheila Bauer, Office Manager, Sacred Heart Church.