The history of Sacred Heart Parish begins in the seventeenth century, when many French-Canadians immigrated to Kankakee county and settled in the Bourbonnais region along the Kankakee River from 1837-1841. Missionary priests from Vincennes, Indiana and from Chicago would stop on their missionary journeys and minister to the spiritual needs of the settlers. With the development of steamboat travel and commerce on the rivers, many pioneers migrated to the area including those from Ireland, France and Germany.
The first settlers were too poor to erect a church, so they would have a missionary priest visit once a month to say mass in their homes. In the 1850’s, Father Mailloux, with his assistant Father Cote, would visit the home of Pierre Paul Caron located about one-half mile north of Route 17 on Warner Bridge Road and the home of Joseph Caron Sr. until a small church was built near Joseph’s home in Section 1, Pilot Township, on the northwest corner of the intersection of the North-South Wagon Road and the present Conrail tracks, the site of Old Lehigh. The pioneers that attended this church were of French, German and Irish descent and lived within fifteen miles. The largest percentage of parishioners at that time were French. The church was known as St. James Mission and was the precursor church of Sacred Heart, Goodrich and St. James, Irwin.
The Reverends Jacque Cote, Joseph Langlois, Pierre Beaudoin, CSV, A Maechael and Peter Paradis served this out-mission.
In 1873, the little church was moved two and one-half miles south to land previously owned by Timothy Fortin. It was more centrally located for those attending and was enlarged to twice its former size.
On December 1, 1894, the Rev. J.C. Simard was appointed pastor of this congregation consisting of 105 families. At this time, there was talk of transferring the location of the church to a place near a railroad station. This arrangement did not have the approval of the entire congregation. After a general parish meeting, held on February 6, 1895, with Fr. Bergeron presiding, the majority favored the Irwin location.
P.S. Feehan, Archbishop of Chicago, approved the decision and authorized Fr. Simard to proceed with the work of building a church as soon as possible at Irwin Station. The first mass was celebrated July 26, 1895, with Fr. Bergeron as celebrant.
The new church location did not meet with the approval of the parishioners living mostly northwest of Old Saint James Church. As a result, they erected a church building 36 feet by 86 feet in the Village of Goodrich, at the cost of $4200. Since the subscription of money and erection of the building was done without the knowledge or approval of the proper church authorities, the new congregation was without a pastor from 1895 to 1896.
Then in 1896, Archbishop Feehan directed Fr. Simard to serve the people of Sacred Heart Church, Goodrich twice a month, since he receieved a deed to the church property signed by the proper people. Mass was celebrated for the first time at Sacred Heart on July 5, 1896. Fr. Simard continued to say mass until Reverend J. Meyer was appointed the first resident pastor on June 20, 1896.
On July 1, 1896, Fr. Meyer said mass for the first time in the Goodrich church. He was also in charge of the mission church, St. Peter and Paul’s, which was located one-half mile south and two miles west of Sacred Heart. Mass was said in both churches every Sunday with alternating hours. The sermons were delivered in French and English at Sacred Heart and in German and English at Sts. Peter and Paul’s. Fr. Meyer was able to celebrate all the masses because he was articulate in many languages.
There were forty families in the parish the first year and Fr. Meyer continued to serve faithfully for 45 years. Not long after his arrival, they erected a new rectory at a cost of $5579.50. It was completed August 30, 1900. In that same year, two acres of ground were obtained for the church cemetery about a mile south of Goodrich. The parishioners then formed the Mount Hope Cemetery Association.
Fr. Meyer planned and organized the first homecoming picnic, which henceforth had been an annual fundraising event until 1987.
Fr. Meyer died May 29, 1944 and is buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Kankakee. The Archbishop then asked Fr. Angelo Rinella, CSV, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee to care for the parish until a resident pastor was installed.
From 1944 to 1946, the Viatorian priests from Kankakee served Sacred Heart.
The Rev. Marion Schuetz, CSV, moved to Goodrich and served the parish until July 1946, when our second pastor, Rev. Francis Moisant, was appointed. Fr. Moisant saw the need for a building which the parishioners could use for business or social functions. The result was the church hall, which is used for religious education class and all of organizations of the parish.
The Rev. E.T. Fitzpatrick, CSV, served the church from 1948-1949. It was during this time, December 11, 1948, that the Joliet Diocese was formed and Sacred Heart Parish became a part of this Diocese under the authority of Bishop Martin D. McNamara.
On February 6, 1948, Rev. Thomas P. O’Brien, CSV, was appointed pastor of the parish and served six years.
The Rev. Eugene F. Hoffman, CSV, came to Sacred Heart in 1955 and served a dual role. He was appointed principal of the new Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee and a resident pastor of Sacred Heart parish. Fr. Hoffman died October 12, 1972.
The Rev. John Foster, CSV, succeeded Fr. Hoffman in September 1961, but because of il health had to be replaced the following summer.
His replacement was Rev. George Dempsey, CSV. Fr. Dempsey served Sacred Heart for eight years. He also had dual responsibilities. He was a teacher at Bishop McNamara High School and pastor at Sacred Heart. In September of 1972, Fr. Dempsey was transferred to St. Lucy Church in Chicago. He died in 1977.
On March 1, 1972, Rev. Thomas G. O’Brien, CSV, had completed twenty years as a chaplain in the United Stated Air Force. He came to Sacred Heart on September 18, 1972 and served until 1978. Fr. Died February 16, 2002.
On July 1, 1978, Rev. Paul Jasinski, CSV, came to Sacred Heart Parish. The accomplishments were many under his direction. A council was formed to help with matters of the church. On May 12, 1982, the Parish Council was officially established, with Carson Cross as president. In 1983, the church hall was remodeled and the Lady of Fatima Outdoor Shrine was completed. Improvements to the cemetery were done in 1985 and in 1987 the rectory was redecorated.
In 1999, Fr. Jasinski celebrated 50 years with the Clerics of St. Viator. During his service to Sacred Ehart, Fr. Used his skills as an industrial arts teacher to act as maintenance man for the church. He built the main wooden altar and the crib for the nativity set, which is still in use. He oversaw the painting and redecorating of the church for the 100th anniversary in 1995. There was scarcely a person in the parish, young or old, that he hadn’t endeared himself to with his dry humor. After serving Sacred Heart so faithfully, Fr. Dies of complications from heart surgery June 28, 2001. The church at that time had approximately 80 families.
Rev. Ronald Hart, the resident pastor of St. Margaret Mary’s Church in Herscher and also the pastor of St. James in Irwin, became pastor of Sacred Heart in 2001. During Fr. Hart’s time, Thomas Henry, the business manager, Rose Renville, the secretary and the Parish Council took on more prominent role in handling the needs of running the church. Fr. Hart was responsible for starting First Friday Devotion and Adoration. On July 13, 2005, Fr. Richard Jacklin became our resident Sacramental Priest. He alternates celebrating mass at the three parishes, so that the pastor may have a chance to minister to all the churches. Fr. Hart was pastor from 2001 to 2008.
The Rev. Michael Pennock was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart, St. James and St. Margaret Mary’s in 2008 but was to stay but one year, due to a need for a bilingual priest to serve the parish of Gilman. Although he was with us for a short time, there was much accomplished. Extensive repairs and remodeling done on the parish hall, which included a new kitchen. He reinstated the religious education program at Sacred Heart and added First Saturday Fatia Rosary and Amss. He commisioned a painter to paint the main altar and ambo to resemble marble.
Rev. Douglas Hauber came to us in the summer of 2009 and was officially installed by Bishop J. Peter Sartain in October. He remained with the three parishes until his transfer in June 2017. Sacred Heart parish at the time had approximately 60 families.
Our current pastor is Rev. Showreddy Allam who began his ministry in June 2017.
We have been blessed with parishioners who have gone on to serve in religious life: Rosella Denault (Sr. St. Vincent de Paul), Miss Mary Evans (Sr. St. Jerome), Miss Loretta Emling (Sr. Loretto Marie), the Rev. William Luby, CSV and the Rev. Ray William Renville, who was ordained June 28, 1980. Also those who have served as permanent deacons, Fr. Ray’s father, John Renville, Andy Yeates and Leon Fritz.