History of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Community is the outgrowth of a chapel located on the Scanlan Plantation (now Sienna) which included about 10,000 acres between old 288 and the Brazos River. The chapel was a small wooden structure located near the heart of the working area of the plantation and under one of the largest and oldest oak trees in southern Texas.
During the 1940's as Czechs settled Iowa Colony, they began attending the once a month Mass at the plantation chapel. Since Scanlan Estate paid all expenses, this was a blessing for the struggling farmers. Soon, some people from Rosharon, Arcola, Fresno, and even Manvel began attending Mass at the chapel. Seeing a need for a parish church in the future, John and Rosie Hubenak decided in 1953 to start a savings account for that purpose. They organized the first bazaar that year which netted $300.
Eventually, Mass was celebrated every week, as University of St. Thomas and St. Thomas High School sent a priest to the chapel every Sunday. In 1960, we were designated a mission under the guidance of St. Theresa's parish in Sugar Land, and in 1967, we were assigned our first full-time priest, Fr. John Pinsonneault, C.S.B. He organized the first parish council in 1968, and we dedicated our own church at the present site on Thanksgiving Day, 1969. It should be noted that when Bishop Morkovsky dedicated the church, he stated, "You built it too small." And he was correct!
With the reassignment of Fr. Pinsonneault in 1970, Fr. Roy Oggero, C.S.B. took care of the spiritual needs of the community until 1973 when Fr. Vincent Dulock, C.S.B. was assigned administer of our mission. In the years that followed we built a parish hall in 1975, and in 1977 we were elevated to the status of a parish and Fr. Vince Dulock was named the first official pastor. We subsequently built a rectory in 1978 and a pavilion in 1980. Yet, these did not solve our worship needs. After much prayer and planning we were about to embark on a fundraising commitment drive to kick-off the building of our new church, when the infamous flood of 1979 invaded most of the parish with rain that set new United States records. With many people's homes being flooded, their needs came first, and the building of the church was postponed.
Then came three years of much planning and prayer. Classroom space was needed, which would have been available from the old church - if the new church were built. Interest rates became prohibitively high and the Diocese did not have the funds to loan to us. We decided to purchase some low-cost portable buildings, the interior of which we finished ourselves and divided into eight nice classrooms.
In early 1982, the Diocese informed us that funds for the new church (minus the office area, chapel, and restrooms) were available. So we began construction plans immediately. Fr. Vince Dulock, C.S.B. was the existing priest, then came Fr. Bob Matzinger, C.S.B. He became our new pastor in June, 1984 followed by Fr. Tom McReavy, C.S.B. who became our new pastor in August, 1991. Fr. James J. Gaunt, C.S.B. became our new pastor in November, 1993.
In 2000, wings were added to the existing church allowing seating capacity of 1,050 parishioners. During Fr. Gaunt's time, the parish has grown from 400 to over 2000 families. A new Parish Life Center was constructed to meet the needs of the parish and Fr. David J. Zapalac, C.S.B. was appointed pastor on January 1, 2008.
In late July of 2013, Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Community became an Archdiocesan parish when we welcomed Fr. Tom Ponzini as our new pastor. Our small country parish is now a large country parish with over 3,500 families. We are growing while we work to maintain our small country feel as we warmly welcome all new people!