History Of Our Parish

Humble Beginnings

The parish celebrated 100 years since being established as a parish church, but a Catholic faith community existed in Sinton as early as 1896. The newspaper The Southern Messenger reported in its March 1896 issue that Father B. J. Donada, pastor at San Patricio, hoped to bring a mission to Sinton in late April of that year.  

In early August 1897, the newspaper reported, “the new church in Sinton…nearing completion.” In its Sept. 30, 1897 issue, The Messenger reported that Father Donada continued overseeing construction of a new church in Sinton. Part of the old convent at San Patricio had been moved to Sinton to be used to build the church.  

On Nov. 11, 1897 it was reported the church was completed. The carpenters and painters were very pleased with their work and so was Father Donada, who began to look for someone to build a fence around the church lots. The previous Wednesday, the day after All Souls Day, Father Donada had celebrated Mass at the church and preached to the congregation to remember the poor souls in Purgatory. 

Bishop Peter Verdaguer of the Vicariate of Brownsville was scheduled to bless the new church on the first Sunday of December, which was Dec. 5, 1897. Bishop Verdaguer was to hold confirmations and the choir from Corpus Christi was expected to sing the Mass. Father L. Wyer, Vicar Forane of Victoria was to be the guest preacher. Four to five priests were expected to be present and both Catholics and non-Catholics were invited to the dedication.  

The first mention of the name Sacred Heart in the newspaper’s columns was on Oct. 27, 1898 when it reported that Father Donada had celebrated Mass there on Oct. 16, 1898. Sacred Heart continued to be a mission of St. Patrick in San Patricio until early 1916. 

On Jan. 31, 1916, Father John Scheid, Chancellor of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, wrote to Father Michael Puig, pastor of St. Patrick, informing him that Bishop Paul Nussbaum was relieving him of his missions, including Sinton. Bishop Nussbaum had been recruiting new priests to the diocese, appealing both to his superiors in the Passionist Order and to Pope Pius X. Several Passionist priests did come, including Father Martin Ford, who became the first pastor of Sacred Heart. 

The priests at Sacred Heart were also charged with taking care of missions in George West, Odem and Taft. The community in George West grew to the point that Father David Buckley, who had succeeded Father Ford in 1920, was visiting it once a week and recommended that a resident priest be assigned there. Bishop Emmanuel Ledvina agreed and, in 1923, assigned Father Buckley to George West and named Father Daniel Lanigan as pastor at Sacred Heart. 

In the spring of 1924, the parish plant was moved to four acres donated by the Odem family. By the fall of that same year they opened a parochial school with Incarnate Word sisters instructing 10 boys and 12 girls. 

A new church building was constructed in 1940 under the pastorship of Father A. J. Ordner, and Coadjutor Bishop Mariano Garriga dedicated it on May 12, 1940. The old church building was moved and became the church building for Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission. 

Less than a quarter century later, on March 2, 1962, the cornerstone of the current church building was laid. The $200,000 church was built under the direction of Father Frank Gronotte—who had served as pastor since 1953—to meet the demands of a growing parish community. On May 16, 1962, Auxiliary Bishop Adolph Marx blessed and dedicated the new church building. Parishioners placed signatures of the building committee, the name of the pastor, the names of the presidents of the U.S., the name of the governor of Texas, the name of the mayor of Sinton and various coins from around the world in the cornerstone inside two copper cylinders.  

This church has served the parish for more than half a century and was nearly filled to capacity for the centennial celebration, as hundreds of parishioners poured out at the end of the Mass to be greeted by Bishop Mulvey.  

“It is a vibrant community, it is a loving community,” its current pastor Father Paul Rajareegam said. “People are growing in faith. They await the word of God. They participate in the Liturgy. The church is always full.” 

Father Paul, as the parish community calls him, said the people are very cooperative and came together to organize the centennial celebration insuring its success. Despite its century long existence, Sacred Heart is a growing community, Father Paul said. It used to have 200 students enrolled in religious education but now has 470. It had 250 registered families but now has 450.  

The parish has the usual ministries of lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, religious education and choirs. Volunteer organizations include the Altar Society, Sacred Heart Youth Group and Quilters. Deacon Solomon Willis assists Father Paul with Holy Mass, baptisms, funerals and other pastoral duties. 

“We do not retire from the practice of our faith, we do not retire from living the Gospel in concrete terms,” Bishop Mulvey said in his homily.  “No one can say I’m finished. We’re never done. As we look…at the 100 years in this parish…each one has an obligation of living the faith and sharing it.” 

The bishop said that people cannot live the past, but rather they should learn from the past and be grateful.  

“If the next 100 years of faith is going to make a difference in society,” he said, “it depends on us.”