History of Sacred Heart Parish

Humble Beginnings-First Sacred Heart Church, Miami, OK  

The first Sacred Heart Church in Miami, Oklahoma had the distinction of being the first church dedicated in the 20th century by the first Catholic Bishop of Oklahoma.

Bishop Theophile Meerschaert blessed the little white frame building and dedicated it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on April 22, 1922.  It was built under the supervision of Rev. Alphonse A. Herenthals, at that time pastor of the Quapaw Indian Church, St. Mary's.

There were ten families in the parish at the time work commenced on the first church in 1889.

The first Sacred Heart Church remained a mission of St. Mary's for 27 years. During that time the following priests served it: Revs. Herenthals; Maurice D'heanens (a Belgian Missionary who had come to Indian Territory and whom the Indians called "Father Dannis"); Rev. John Feyan, who served from 1905 until 1912 and died enroute to a visit to his native land, the Netherlands; Rev. James Wagner, a German-born priest who served until St. Mary's Church and School were closed in 1927. 

For a time no Masses were offered in Sacred Heart Church. Bishop Meerschaert had died and Oklahoma's second Bishop, Francis C. Kelley, one of the most distinguished church figures in the world had come to serve the diocese and to carry the Faith to remote corners of the state. Soon he gave the care of Sacred Heart Church to the Fathers of the Precious Blood.

Rev. George Grievenkamp became the first resident pastor. On October 13, 1960, the Most Rev. Bishop Victor J. Reed blessed the 19 acres of ground that had been acquired for Sacred Heart's expansion. Work began on the new Church and it was opened for formal worship on Thanksgiving Day 1961.

Our church today is built by faith, work and prayers, but we must never forget the descendants of those pioneers who braved hardship, loneliness, and danger to carry the Faith into Oklahoma. The Mother Church, St. Mary's of the Quapaws is gone; the beloved little Sacred Heart Church that cradled Catholicism in the new, raw, territorial town that was to become Miami, is gone. But we remember those intrepid leaders who made the Church of today, a reality.

Growing Through Changes-A School is Built!

Sacred Heart Parochial School: 1948-1961

(excerpts from Velma Nieberding in a written paper July, 1983)

On November 28, 1948, members of Sacred Heart Parish gathered at a very special location on West Central Avenue in Miami, Oklahoma. They were there to celebrate a dream that came true. The Most Reverand Eugene J. McGuinness, third Bishop of the Diocese of Oklahoma was there to bless a new Catholic School.

In April of 1948 the dioscesan newspaper reported that one of the Sacred Heart Parish projects was the building of a school. Grade school students were reporting every Saturday for religious instruction. High School students met every Tuesday in a discussion club. The parish was growing steadily. Father Robert Roster, the builder of the school, was the seventh priest to serve Sacred Heart as pastor since the establishment of the church in 1900. Bishop McGuinness was he third Bishop to serve the diocese. The Benedictine Sisters of Guthrie were to staff the new institution.

Bishop McGuinness blessed the original little house, which was now the Sacred Heart Convent, home to the Benedictine Sisters who staffed the school, and the Bishop blessed the new school. The Knights of Columbus served as Honor Guard and the Altar Society hosted a luncheon for the Bishop, visiting clergy, sisters, and public.

The school was described as a one story structure in modernistic design. It began with an enrollment of 40 pupils. The parish numbered 60 families. The school became known for a great music department winning many awards and receiving a "superior rating" at competition in Tulsa. During this time 34 grade school students participated in choir under the direction of Sister Mary Peter and Sister Rita.

The school quickly outgrew its capacity and during the last years of its existence accepted an average of 100 students per year in grades 1 thru 8. In 1960 due to a shortage of classrooms and teachers the first and second grades were dropped from the curriculum. The school closed the following year.


Looking to the Future




Sacred Heart Church,

Miami, OK

1541-Catholic faith brought to Oklahoma by Fray Juan de Padilla on the Coronado Expedition. Fr. Padilla remained with the Indians and was cruelly put to death by them.

1673-Father Marquette, a Jesuit priest, visited the Arkansas (Quapaw) Indians living along the Arkansas River.

1778-Priests began serving the Arkansas (Quapaw) Indians.

1893-St. Mary's of the Quapaw Mission and School was founded by Rev. William H. Ketcham.

1900-Sacred Heart Church of Miami was established as a missionof St. Mary's of the Quapaws. It was the first church dedicated in the new century by Oklahoma's first Catholic Bishop.The building cost $3500.

1905-Diocese of Oklahoma was created.

1927-Sacred heart Church moved from "mission" status to "independent parish" status, and St. Mary's of the Quapaw school closed.

1948-Sacred Heart Parochial School was blessed and ready for students at a cost of$16,500. The first term of school, 40 pupils enrolled and six grades were taught.

Important Events in Building our Beloved

Sacred Heart Church in Miami, Oklahoma

Jan.1,1959-FatherJohn Wilson   "You will have to build"

Oct. 13,1960-Ground Blessed for New Church and Parish Hall

Feb.-Mar. 1961-Campaign Plan for expansion begins. Goal -$138,000 in pledges over three  years. Contract was $138,000.

Thanksgiving 1961-First Mass

in new Sacred Heart Church.

November 1961-Public invited to inspect church.

Sept. 25, 1962-Church dedicated by Most Rev. Victor J. Reed, Bishop of Oklahoma.

Jan. 1963-Parish Hall completed.

Feb. 1972-The Legion of St. Mary organized.

1975-75th Anniversary of Sacred Heart Church is celebrated.

1982-The Sacred Heart religious education building is dedicated.

2000-Centennial celebration of Sacred Heart Church.

2011-50th Anniversary of the "new church"

Sacred Heart Catholic Church    2515 North Main                         Miami, Ottawa County, OK