A Vibrant and Resilient Centennial Hamilton Parish



On June 5, Pentecost Sunday, Bishop Douglas Crosby will celebrate the 100th Anniversary Mass for Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish overlooking Hamilton, Ontario from Hamilton Mountain.

Prof. Charlie Jordan considers it fitting that this landmark occurs on the date that the followers of Jesus were commissioned to launch the Church.

“It is a very fitting holiday to have this anniversary as we are celebrating 100 years of parish life in which the Holy Spirit has led our church and been present in our parish throughout these years,” Jordan said. “I love this connection.”

Gus Hubbard, chairman of the parish’s 100th anniversary committee alongside his wife, Aldona, adds “it’s good that Mass is taking place during the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

In truth, the centennial year was 1921, but the pandemic has pushed the celebrations back to 2022.

In its early days, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish on Mountain Park Avenue was a small, white-framed building that could accommodate up to 150 people. The building was already dedicated to the Chapel of the Sacred Heart nearly a decade earlier in 1912, but a nascent Catholic population on Hamilton Mountain transformed the place of worship into a parish in its own right.

Bishop Thomas Dowling decreed in a letter to Fr. James Kirby that he would be the inaugural pastor of the parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that he should “take charge of it no later than Sunday, September 18, 1921”.

Parish historians recorded the first marriage in Sacred Heart history on June 2, 1921, to Thomas Bull and Catherine Fitzgerald. On November 20, 1921, Mary Margaret Hamilton was the first baby baptized in the new parish.

Forty families, mostly of Irish descent, made up the founding congregation. Today, Sacred Heart, referred to as “community with a heart,” features a diverse and active collective of parishioners.

“We have a very kind, caring and collaborative Catholic community,” said Aldona, who married her husband in Sacred Heart in 1978. “I think people show a lot of mercy and compassion for others, we have contact with people who need support. and active volunteer groups. And we are a great example of what Canadian society is, a mixture of many people.

Gus, as a member of the Sacred Heart community since the 1950s, is perhaps best placed to explain why Hamilton Mountain’s first place of worship is so enduring after a century. He said the people’s “drive and resilience” keep this parish moving forward.

Gus considers the 1960s the “heyday” of Sacred Heart, then the only Catholic church on Hamilton Mountain. This decade has been defined as a decade of radical societal change and religious upheaval because of Vatican II.

“I remember that the presbytery had up to four priests at a time, and the pastor at the time was Mgr. James Ryan,” he said. “We had four masses on Sundays and we had two morning masses each day. The overall growth of the region was phenomenal at the time.

Gus sees Ryan’s stable, long-term presence as a key driver of Sacred Heart’s decades of growth. Ryan oversaw the building of the modern church, the introduction of English liturgies, and the institution of the parish’s Holy Name Society and Catholic Women’s League chapter.

Declining attendance in the new millennium forced the Diocese of Hamilton to subpoena the father. Michael McHugh as pastor of Sacred Heart and Holy Family Parishes in 2006. When Jordan began his term in 2016, he was assigned to lead Sacred Heart and Holy Family Parish.

Each twinned parish organizes a weekend celebration and two weekday liturgies per week. It’s an arrangement that works effectively, Jordan said.

“There is such an openness to the idea from people that things change over the years. They went from a parish with three priests living there to a commune with another parish.

The celebrations began with a special Mass last year on September 13. Since then, the Sacred Heart has hosted a soup party and birthday cake celebration, installed a Knights of Columbus plaque honoring unborn children, beautified the grounds with a gardening project, compiled A century of cooking and baking cookbook, wrote a specialized prayer and published a history booklet.

An anniversary brunch at the Michelangelo Banquet Center follows the June 5 Mass with Crosby with talks and a photo slideshow of the parish through its history.

A time capsule filled with artefacts from the 100th anniversary will be buried in June or July.

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