Pastors of Sacred Heart
History of Our Parish
A Brief History of Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Catholicism first came to the Cape Fear Region nearly 500 years ago, when a Spanish expedition’s flagship sank in the Cape Fear River. No lives were lost and masses were offered in thanksgiving.
The first formal Catholic presence in the region was 1820 when an Irish immigrant, Bishop England, became Vicar of Charleston, SC. He instituted missionary services to Ft. Johnston and Caswell. Father Murphy was appointed (several years later) to Fayettsville & had jurisdiction over all of Eastern NC. He moved to Wilmington in 1846 and begun a regular schedule of services until his death in 1862. Other Priests followed & ministered to our own forts and Smith Island (known as Bald Head Island today).
For many years years thereafter Mass was celebrated in the homes of Catholic families in the area. In the 1930s, Sacred Heart Mission was established. Mass was celebrated in the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp in Southport and then later in the “blue room” upstairs at Southport City Hall (now Franklin Square Art Gallery).
Sacred Heart Church was dedicated in 1941 after the construction on the site (donated by Mr. James “Gus” McNeil) located on the corner of Caswell & West Streets.
Sometime in 1962 the Parish Hall was built and we acquired our very first full-time pastor, Father Kendall.
At this time the parish consisted of approximately 20 families.
March 17, 1991 the original church on Dosher CutOff Rd was dedicated, at which time there were approximately 300 families in membership. ~ exerts taken from Sandy (Potter) Spencer’s account in 2003.
Our current church was dedicated in the fourth quarter of 2003, approximately 18 months after the groundbreaking ceremony in April 2002. Those parishioners that were here during this period of expansion would gladly show you which part of the church is that of the original 1991 structure from the outside or from the inside. The original 1991 structure is what is now the all purpose room area and more. Our 2003 church is very distinguishable particularly from the inside, with its beautiful beamed wooden ceiling to the incredible statues and stain glass. We remind ourselves that the church is the people of whom have gathered together in worship. Come worship with us!
Columbarium & Memorial Garden
The Columbarium and Garden are outside the Church, through a door on the left side of the Gathering area. A statue of an Angel watches over its four vaults, with a total of 250 niches, each niche is able to hold two urns.
Statue of the Madonna Della Strada (Our Lady of the Way)
(in the courtyard at the rear of the Church, from Italy by Ferruzzi)
Whoever Welcomes One Such Child in My Name Welcomes Me Mary Mother of God, Protect the Unborn
Dedicated in Loving Memory of the Unborn
Sacred Heart of Southport Knights of Columbus Council #12537
Statues in the Day Chapel
Blessed Mary Mother of Jesus
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
These Statues were initially placed in the original Catholic Church located in downtown Southport.
Stations of the Cross in the Day Chapel
Statues in the Sanctuary
(Hand-carved in Italy from lindenwood)
St. Joseph (front left)
St. Joseph was the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. He was a carpenter who, despite his humble means, was a descendant of David, the greatest king of Israel.
St. Isaac Jogues (left side front)
St. Jogues was one of the heroic Jesuit missionaries canonized as the Martyrs of North America in 1930. From 1636 he worked successfully with the Hurons in Quebec. In 1642 he was imprisoned and tortured for a year by the Iroquois, then captured by the Mohawks & beheaded in 1646.
(Source: The Wisdom of the Saints—Biographical Notes)
St. Kateri Tekakwitha (left side back)
Kateri was born in 1656 of an Algonquin mother and a Mohawk chief in the Mohawk village of Canaouaga (now Auriesville) in upstate New York.
At age 19, she converted to Catholicism, taking a vow of chastity and pledging to marry only Jesus Christ. Her decision was very unpopular and some of her neighbors started rumors of sorcery. To avoid persecution, she traveled to the Mission of St. Francis Xavier, a settlement of Christian Indians in Canada. While there, Kateri taught prayers to children and worked with the elderly and sick. She was known for her great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Cross of Christ. She died of smallpox on April 17, 1680, at age 24. She became the first Native American Saint in the United Stated on October 21, 2012.
The Virgin Mary Mother of Jesus (front right)
St. Francis of Assisi (right side front)
The most universally known and beloved of all saints, Francis was born to a wealthy silk merchant. He spent his youth in pursuit of pleasure and glory in war and had an idealized, chivalric image. He was captured in battle, imprisoned and suffered a serous illness which changed his temperament. He had compelling visions of Christ and began to devote his life to serving the sick and poor. After a break from his father, Francis turned to a life of absolute poverty and simplicity, wandering through the world calling all to the practice of charity and penance. In 1224 he received the stigmata, the five wounds of the crucified Christ.
(Source: The Wisdom of the Saints—Biographical Notes)
Sacred Heart of Jesus (right side back)
(Designed by Father Methodius Telnack, O.C.S.O)
Over the Altar
The rose window is Jesus, the Divine Mercy, from Sister Faustina’s vision. The three right windows represent the seed, which becomes the wheat, which becomes the bread, which is the Body of Christ. The three left windows represent the water, which becomes the grape, which produces the wine, which is the Blood of Christ.
In the Clerestory
(Windows in the upper portion of the walls to supply natural light.)
The front four windows on either side of the clerestory are based on the hymn “Mary the Dawn” written by Paul Cross in 1949.
Right side (1st – 4th)
Mary the Dawn
Christ the Perfect Day
Mary the Gate
Christ the Heavenly Way
Left side (1st – 4th)
Christ the Rose blood-red Mary the Rose – tree
Christ the Have’s Rest Christ the Beacon
The back five windows on either side are based on invocations in the “Litany of the Sacred Heart, promises of the Sacred Heart.
Right side (5th – 9th)
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom & knowledge
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells the fullness of divinity
Left side (5th – 9th)
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance Heart of Jesus, our life and reconciliation
Heart of Jesus, abode of justice and love Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness
Stained Glass Throughout the Churchfrom the original sanctuary)
The areas set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform (cross-shaped) church.
Right Transept / Day Chapel
(from left to right)
Lamb of God Sacred Heart Nativity Jesus w/ Children Loaves and Fishes – Wedding Feast at Cana- Good Samaritan
(from left to right)
Last Supper, Jesus Praying in the Garden, Crucifixion, Resurrection; Mary, Mother of Sorrows
Sacred Heart (visible from outside)
Jesus teaching in the Temple (entry, right)
Jesus with the Children (entry, left)
Easter Lilies (either side of Columbarium door)
The current sanctuary was consecrated in November 2003 by Bishop Gossman.
This page is dedicated to the generous Parishioners of Sacred Heart who made this possible, and particularly to the Building Committee, their chairperson, Bob Kleid, and Father J. Douglas Lawson.