History of Sacred Heart Mission


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History of Sacred Heart Mission

In the 1920’s, the area that is now St. Justin Martyr Parish was under the jurisdiction of the first Catholic church in Anaheim, St. Boniface. The local Hispanic residents in the Independencia area appealed to the pastor of St. Boniface, Fr. Patrick Browne, to build a church for them. Fr. Browne consented, and the first Misión del Sagrado Corazón / Sacred Heart Mission was built by those residents and their pastor, who completed the church in September, 1926. This church still stands on the property, located at 10852 Harcourt Avenue, just northwest of Katella and Gilbert Streets. This original building is currently used as a parish center and meeting area.

During the early years, the church was ministered to by the priests from St. Boniface, St. Isidore’s in Los Alamitos, Redemptorist Fathers, Columban Fathers, and Servite Friars. In 1948, Sacred Heart Mission came under the jurisdiction of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Westminster. When Fr. Hugh O'Connor, the founding pastor of St. Justin Martyr Parish, arrived in Anaheim the first Mass he said was at Sacred Heart on Ascension Thursday, 1958.  On July 7, 1958, Sacred Heart was officially transferred to the newly formed St. Justin Martyr Parish.  Since the mission is within the geographical area of St. Justin Martyr Parish, the priests assigned to St. Justin have the responsibility of ministering to the needs of its people.

From its beginning, the small white wooden structure was the center for religious services and celebrations, as well as education, family, and community activities. The Men’s Club and Women’s Council were formed, which planned and organized many church events and fund-raisers. As the community grew, the need for a larger church building became apparent. A building fund was established which in 1963 enabled them to purchase a half acre of land for its expansion.  In 1967 Fr. O'Connor proudly led the groundbreaking for the new mission church which was completed in one year.  The 1926 church bell was removed from the original church and installed on the new church.  On July 7, 1968 the first Mass in the new, larger church, built to seat 280, was celebrated.

The local people contributed greatly to the new church, built next to the old one, by fundraising and manual labor to make the church a reality. St. Justin Martyr parishioners also helped fund the new church through their Sunday donations. Along with the old church and the new church, the mission property also houses several portable classrooms and an office. Parking is across the street.

In 1971 Archbishop Timothy Manning dedicated the new Sacred Heart Mission.  A mariachi band greeted him at Gilbert/Pacific Streets and followed in procession to the mission for a Mass and blessing.  A fiesta was held at the Independencia Center after Mass.  Another grand celebration was held in September, 1976 when Bishop William Johnson presided at the 50th Anniversary Mass for the mission.  A fiesta of food, games, and entertainment followed.  Many other religious feasts, fiestas and social gatherings were celebrated over the years, all united as a community of faith and friendship.  

Many people continue to volunteer for ministries in the church, including lectores, comentadores, ministros do hospitalidad, coordinadores de liturgia, ministros de la Eucaristia, and choirs. The School of Religious Education offers sacrament classes for children and youth, all taught by volunteers.  The RICA program offers sacramental education and classes for adults.  There is also a large, active community of groups and organizations that meet at Sacred Heart and St. Justin Martyr.

Sacred Heart Mission continues to be a vibrant, active and growing church.  In the 1990's its pews were overflowing with people from over 800 families attending Sunday Masses. It is because of this growth and the limited capacity of the mission church, that in 1999 the decision was made to hold the Spanish Saturday/Sunday Masses at the larger St. Justin Martyr Church. Weekday Masses as well as some weddings and baptisms are still held at Sacred Heart Mission. The growing community was in need of upgraded portable classrooms on the mission property, and two new, larger, handicap accessible classrooms were installed in 2001.

The Hispanic Community held many fundraisers for the Building Fund established to rebuild St. Justin Martyr Church that was damaged in a 2005 arson fire.  Because the church was not usable a large tent to seat 1,000 for Saturday/Sunday Masses was set up in the parking lot.  Some smaller liturgies that had been planned for St. Justin Church were moved to Sacred Heart Mission.  The Community also helped in various capacities during the year of rebuilding, including last minute set up and organizing on the day the church reopened.

Many fundraisers were also held for the repair of the Sacred Heart roof supports and a new roof in 2012.  The same year the office at Sacred Heart was closed and is now combined with the parish office of St. Justin Martyr.     

Sacred Heart Mission's continued growth, both physically and spiritually, is an inspiration and model for the mission of the Catholic Church.

St. Justin Martyr Parish History

St. Justin Martyr School History