Ground Broken for New Sacred Heart Parish Hall
By LORETTA FULTON
On Father Albert Ezeanya’s first day as the new priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, July 1, 2019, an 80-year-old member asked him a question.
“Can you please get a new hall for us?” she asked, referring to a parish hall to replace the current one that is located in the church basement.
A year and a half later, Father Albert, as he is known to parishioners, has an answer: “Yes!”
The first step in constructing the new building took place Friday, Jan. 15, on ground that was blessed with holy water by Bishop Michael Sis of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo.
Ceremonial gold shovels were stuck into a pile of sand, rather than trying to penetrate the cold, hard ground. Before the symbolic first shovels of sand were lifted, the bishop, Father Albert, and several other speakers prepared the way.
“This is something you’ve worked for for twenty years,” Scott Dueser, who helped raise funds for the building, said to the crowd that braved a chilly, brisk wind. “You made it happen.”
Sacred Heart, located at South Eighth and Jeanette streets, was completed in 1931 and has a Texas Historical Commission marker in front. The marker notes the church’s Spanish colonial revival architecture and its Moorish style elements.
The building, inside and out, is beautiful, but the parish hall in the basement has its limitations. It is not handicap accessible, has only one men’s and one women’s restrooms, and the only exit is by way of stairs. All those issues, plus its size and age, make it useless for many church activities.
“This becomes a hindrance as we are unable to accommodate larger group gatherings,” Father Albert said.
The new building will be constructed between the main church building and the smaller Adoration Chapel located on the east side of the property. Construction is expected to begin immediately.
Special guest at the ceremony was Rev. Msgr. Robert Bush, longtime priest at Sacred Heart before Father Albert. Bush now is in a reduced ministry role at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Odessa.
Presiding over the ceremony was Bishop Sis, who joked at the beginning of the ceremony that, “It’ll last about two hours–is that OK?” The crowed, already chilled to the bone, laughed and groaned and the same time.
Sis said that if an alien landed in different parts of the world, it would know what’s important to the people by what they had built, such as the pyramids in Egypt, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, and pump jacks in West Texas. Even though the people are the most important part of the church, he said, what they build is significant.
“What we build reflects what’s important to us,” Sis said. “What will happen there is very important to you.”
The bishop’s remarks included a prayer that is read during the ordination ceremony for a new priest. The prayer, Sis said, also applies to the members and friends of Sacred Heart who have worked for years to raise the money for a new parish hall.
“May God who has begun this work in you,” the bishop said, “bring it to fulfillment.”
Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene