We were blessed by the presence and leadership of our first pastor, Fr. Albert Braun O.F.M., who rallied our community and build the original Sacred Heart Church building near what is currently 16th Street and Buckeye Road after the Second World War. Our parish church was consecrated and so set apart for the sacred purpose of our worship of God in accord with our ancient faith.
For over three decades now, it has been a reminder of the great neighborhoods that was once called home for thousands in our city. These were Golden Gate, Milpas, Green Valley and Campito. These were warm and tight knit communities and our church was the heart and spiritual center for so many the residents. Like many other historic Churches in the surrounding neighborhoods, this church was built by the people. Many of us parishioners still tell stories of their parents and grandparents building the church… but most especially, we remain a part of this still vibrant and active parish that serves this community.
In the 1970’s, the City of Phoenix notified us that it intended to acquire properties in the area as part of the West Approach Land Acquisition Program for the expansion of Sky Harbor Airport. Like the hundreds of other buildings, homes, and properties in that neighborhood, the City targeted the Church property as essential to the expansion of the airport and made clear its intention to use the government power of “eminent domain” to acquire these properties. Thus, like hundreds of other property owners in the area, our parish was given no choice in the matter.
At that time, our Parish made the choice to remain at the Historic Church until the mid-1980’s and continue to serve the people while deciding how to move forward. We simply did not want to leave the neighborhood or leave our beautiful Church. While former Golden Gate residents and many from Milpas and Campito relocated throughout the valley, many remained.
We applied the proceeds from the forced sale to acquire property just five blocks to the West for a new church, where we have remained to serve the neighborhood ever since. Though the funds received through the forced sale were insufficient to purchase land and build a new church and hall, we gathered together as a community to keep the parish in the neighborhood.
Our historic parish church remains sacred to us and to our city. Many pieces of sacred art, such as statues have been maintained and restored so that they can return to their place in the church. Other artwork along with the pews, lighting, bells and altars remain in the Historic Church… waiting to be a part of the sacred rites for which the parish used them years ago.
It has always been the hope of so many of us that the church would be a church again for future generations. Today Sacred Heart Church is a most important connection for us who were born and raised within the four neighborhoods.
After over 35 years, it will be a great joy for us to see the restoration of the church to it’s original purpose and to the parish community that has remained faithful in the neighborhood, professing the creed that followers of Jesus have professed since the time of the Apostles.
We are grateful to the Phoenix City Council who, after community meetings where the desire for reestablishment of our church was clearly made known, voted unanimously on June 21st of 2018 for this parish community to once again be able to use its church.
It is our firm commitment to restore Sacred Heart Church so that it can, once again, serve as a place to encounter the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our current church (12th and Buckeye) will remain our base of outreach where we will maintain our full Sunday Mass schedule and Sunday catechism classes as well as the much needed outreach to those in need through our St Vincent de Paul Society. As the historic church is restored, we will be able to have weddings, baptisms and funerals available as is possible.
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