News: Parish Ready to Celebrate Landmark Anniversary

May 20, 2021

Sacred Heart Church in Chariton, Iowa

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Chariton was a couple of months in to a yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of its founding just as the pandemic arrived.

This year, the parish is celebrating “150 plus one” years on June 13. Bishop William Joensen will celebrate Mass, confirm youth and preside at a Corpus Christi procession.

The parish has evolved over the years, first being called St. Anne, when Mass was celebrated in a home. Then it was St. Mary and in its first building. In 1915, it was Sacred Heart and the current parish church was constructed.

“There has been transition from generations, from grandmother of our Lord, Jesus, to mother of our Lord, Jesus, and now to Jesus Christ himself,” said Father Samuel Danso, the pastor.

The parish honors the generations of parishioners who built and supported the parish. Behind the altar are statues of St. Boniface and St. Patrick, representing a tribute to the Irish and German traditions of those who started the parish. A statue of St. Anthony of Padua is also in the church for Italians of the parish.

Gloria Lee has been a parishioner for all of her 85 years. She was baptized and married at Sacred Heart Church and her children were baptized and raised in the parish. She has fond memories of a beautiful baptismal font, priests who served there, and a time when boys sat on one side of the church and girls on the other in front.

She said the church has been a cornerstone in her life.

“My church has always been my family,” she said. “If you need something, just come to one of them and they’ll do anything for you.”

She compiled the history of the parish with a book on the early days of the church that her father had plus photos and papers from the parish office.

The church was updated a little more than 20 years ago. Butnull parishioners didn’t get to rehabbing the windows, eight of which are from the former church building. When parishioner Jaynane Hardie was next door to the church pumping gas into her car at the Casey’s General Store, she glanced up at the bell tower of the church to see that a window had fallen out.

“We decided it was time to do something,” she said. The parish raised the funds and repaired the windows and put a protective storm window by the windows on the east side of the church that didn’t have them. The work was finished last year.  

The next project may be restoring a light in the bell tower.

Hardie said: “People tell me it makes them feel like God is at home.”