In the fall of 1946 the first Holy Mass, Midnight Mass, was celebrated at the new church by Reverend Charles P. Sanger on December 24, 1946, three years after its inception. The old church building, seated south of the new church, was made ready that same fall in preparation of the first season of a new Catholic school. The vision of Catholic education was on the horizon as the old frame church, now divided into two classrooms, became the facility from which a parochial education could be obtained. Enrolled for the first year of the schools’ existence were thirty-five pupils ranging from grades one to eight. Sister M. Lillian and Sister M. Anita, from the Congregation of the Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood, staffed Sacred Heart School that first year.
With the ever present vision of providing a Catholic education, it was necessary to finance the school’s budget with hard work, benefits, and bazaars. Monthly, the Sacred Heart Altar and Rosary Society sponsored socials with themes that ranged from carnivals and box suppers to card parties and harvest festivals.
In the early months of the same year, a two-story frame home was purchased by the parish and moved to a site south of the school (the old frame church). It was remodeled and converted into a convent for the Sisters that were to oversee the Catholic education of the parish’s young people.
By 1950, supplementary work was needed in the basement of the church and at the school. A sink, fixtures, utensils, silver, and dishes were bought to complete the remodel work done in the church basement. A third classroom built onto the school by the men in the parish, provided the additional space necessary for the increase in enrollment.
The organizations of the parish also began to grow. The flourishing Altar and Rosary Society had divided itself into two groups: The Infant of Prague Circle and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Circle. Both circles shared the responsibility of church actives and collectively recorded forty regular and four memorial members. In 1951, the two groups began sponsoring bingo parties monthly for parishioners and community alike. This facet of fundraising continued for years as the parish carried on the mission of school financing and sanctuary and sacristy upkeep. The Knight of Columbus were noticeably active as well. In the fall of 1953, a hall was built for the thirty-plus members where club affairs such as the annual Turkey Shoot could be held, which is to this day, a notable event. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Breakfast were served by both organizations and are still enjoyed by the parish to the present.
Reverend Leonard Abercrombie was appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart in 1956 and led the parish until Reverend John Holloway was assigned leadership in 1962. Under Father Holloway’s direction in 1963, a new convent was built to house the Sisters, The original covent was torn down and a new one was built in its stead, on the south side of the school. It was constructed with tan brick and contained a chapel, living room, community room, a full basement, four bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and utility room.
Religious education for public school students were introduced during Reverend James Morgan’s appointment and Sunday mornings, after mass, were reserved for the lay instruction of Catechism. As the closing of numerous parochial schools subsequently increased, the number of catechists decreased. Difficulties arose in the enlistment of nuns for the rural parish school and this eventually necessitated its closure. The last graduating class, in 1969, saw the end of an ideal. Shortly thereafter, the convent was sold to a private owner and the school, relinquished in 1974, was moved from its southerly site to a location north of a small town of Roggen.
The early seventies brought still more change when, in 1970, Father James Morgan turned his pastoral duties over to Reverend Edward Day. Three years later, Reverend Eugene Murphy was appointed parish vicar.
Under Father Murphy’s tenure, a parish council was officially installed. While under his leadership, a constitution was drawn up in 1975 and meetings were held regularly to enable the parish to accomplish overdue improvements. The 27 year-old church soon benefited from a much needed facelift. Tinted stain glass windows were donated and installed throughout and the interior received a fresh coat of paint as well as unique artwork to replace the former artistry that was unavoidably concealed. Bathrooms were installed in the baptismal area of the vestibule and a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, contributed by a parish family, greeted all those who would enter for worship. The donation of trees, shrubbery, planters and rock defined the newly sculpted landscape. Sacred Heart was now ready to undertake the second half of its golden anniversary existence.
Father Murphy’s term ended in 1980 and struggle to bring into service priestly leadership for the parish resulted with Monsignor Thomas Barry filling the parochial vacancy temporarily. Reverend Carl Longwill, a native of Ireland, was later posted to the position of pastor in the fall of that same year. During Father Longwill’s time with the parish, his call of attention to the turbulent atmosphere of his native country brought a new appreciation of the religious freedom our community so often enjoyed, and his homeland so obviously lacked.
In 1985, Reverend Robert Brunei received assignment of Sacred Heart Parish and the church again experienced reform. A new Spanish tile roof replaced an old one that had previously been unsuccessfully repaired, and technologically advanced windows were installed to help combat the recurrent water leaks that had plagued the structure for years. Exterior work involved fresh paint overall and extensive concrete reconstruction was completed with the help and assistance of the men of the parish.
Opportunity arose, enabling the parish to achieve the highest act of praise to our Lord Jesus Christ when a small pipe organ, with melodies yet to behold, was purchased from an estate in Colorado Springs and installed late in the fall of 1989. An offering of the gift of music in the glorification of our Lord far outweighed the costly amount the parish would have to sacrifice.
After a service of seven years with Sacred Heart Parish, Father Brunei retired his duties and Reverend Peter Urban was commissioned as parish priest. A year after his installment, another dream was realized when the parish and surrounding communities participated in World Youth Day ’93. Pop John Paul II chose Denver for his visit, the site for a Papal Mass, and five days of youth activities revolving around the renewal of our youth’s Catholic faith. The parish of Sacred Heart and its missions of our Lady of Lourdes in Wiggins and Holy Family of Keenesburg mounted the effort of providing the communion hosts to be consecrated at the Papal Mass, Sunday, August 15, 1993. With the help of Our Lady of Lourdes parishioners, a collection of wheat was made from the three parishes and was later milled into one ton of wheat flour. Carmelite Sisters in Littleton, Colorado agreed to make the wheat flour into 850,000 communion wafers. The task was to take four months and the desire for area farmers to extend a hand in the call to volunteer was fulfilled.
In 1994, Father Urban resigned his post and Reverend Jerry Young was given the opportunity to guide the parish, but his health did not allow his stay in Roggen to be lengthy. Reverend Joseph Blanco accepted placement at Sacred Heart Parish in June of 1995 and will most certainly become a part of the history with which the Roggen community is so richly steeped.
The present building of Sacred Heart now celebrates its 50th Anniversary, but ideally it began as a small mission in Roggen in 1914. In 1921, an old schoolhouse from Roggen was transformed into a church building and later, with a great deal of determination, was dedicated in 1942 as a parish. It will soon be 75 years since the origin of a hope and ideal realized only to those who knew the precious value of the practice of one’s faith and the importance of community. To carry on the legacy shall be a witness and call to duty to the children of generations to come that they may know and appreciate the dedication and commitment devoted to causes of great worth.
Chronological History of Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Parish with Roggen as a Mission
1932 – 1938 Rev. Bernard Weakland
1928 – 1944 Rev. William J. Gallagher
1944 – 1949 Rev. Charles P. Sanger
Mission of Roggen
1949 – 1956 Rev. Charles P. Sanger
1956 – 1962 Rev. Leonard Abercrombie
1962 – 1966 Rev. John Holloway
1966 – 1969 Rev. James Morgan
1969 – 1973 Rev. Edward Day
1973 – 1980 Rev. Eugene Murphy
1980 Msgr. Thomas Barry
1980 – 1985 Rev. Cathal Longwill
1985 – 1992 Rev. Robert Breunig
1992 – 1994 Rev. Peter Urban
1994 – 1995 Rev. Gerald Young
1995 – 2000 Rev. Joseph Blanco
2001 – 2002 Rev. Reinhold Weissbeck
2003 – 2006 Rev. Robert Wedow
2007 – 2008 Rev. Frank Garcia
2009 – 2012 Rev. Hector Chiapa-Villarreal
2013 – 2019 Rev. Carlos Wilson Bello Ayala
2019 – present Rev. Peter Dinh