Catholic Parish of Sacred Heart,

Catholic Parish of Sacred Heart, South Bend, In

Founded : 1896 – Retired Parish

Pastor: Retired Parish

(Click on pictures to enlarge for better viewing)

Sacred Heart 1936 Sacred Heart Alter 1937 Sacred Heart turn of the century Sacred Heart Church & School 1973 Sacred Heart South Bend 1927 on Thomas St (Added 12/21/2005


Genealogy Records


LDS Records

Sacred Heart of South Bend has not been filmed by the LDS


South Bend Public Library

Marrige, Birth and Death is available on CRIMP Roll 27, Item 6 & 7  in the Genealogy Center, 2nd floor  

Item 6         Deaths                 1896-1961

Item 7         Marriages            1898-1961


Research assistance is available at 574-282-4621 in the Genealogy center 


Church Web Site and Contact:


The records for Sacred Heart Parish (the Belgian Church formerly on Thomas St are kept at the Corpus Christi Church Parish Office

CONTACT US for Sacred Heart (Belgian Church) Records

Corpus Christi
(est. 1961) (574) 272-9982
2822 Corpus Christi Dr., FAX (574) 272-2545
South Bend, IN 46628
Pastor: Rev. Camillo Tirabassi 
In Residence: Rev. Walter Bly
Religious Education: Michael Rafinski (574) 272-4621
Parish Secretary: Terri Herendeen
Convent: 2836 Corpus Christi Dr.,
South Bend, IN 46628 (574) 272-9888
Sisters: M. Martin, M. Geraldine (Daughters of Divine Charity)

School: 2817 Corpus Christi Dr., South Bend, IN 46628 (574) 272-9868
Principal: Marilyn Gibbs FAX (574) 272-9894
486 Students/Grades Pre-school-8
Masses: Sunday — 7, 8:30, 10, 11:30 a.m.; Saturday — 5 p.m.; 
Holy Day — 6:30, 8 a.m., noon during school year, 7 p.m.;
Vigil/Holy Day — 5:30 p.m.; Weekdays; 6:30 a.m. — M, Th, F; 
7:50 a.m. — M-F; Tues. and Wed. — 5:30 p.m.; Sat. — 8 a.m.
Reconciliation: Saturday — 4-4:50 p.m.; Tuesday — 5-5:20 p.m. and by appointment
791 Families/HH — 2,732 persons 

History Of Sacred Heart, South Bend


SOUTH BEND.  St. Joseph County.
Sacred Heart Church.

     In the earlier days, the few Belgian families living in South Bend worshipped at St. Patrick's Church, whose pastor did for them what he could, and three or four times a year procured for them the services of Rev. J. Joos, a Belgian priest, from the diocese of Detroit.  In 1896, the number of Belgian families had increased to fifty and the Rev. Henry A. Paanakker, C. S. C., a newly ordained priest, received the appointment as pastor of the Belgians, with instructions to organize a Belgian parish.  He at once bought two lots of ground for $1,800, and on one of them he erected a two-story building, with a brick basement, to serve the purposes of both church and school.  This building was put up at an expense of $8,000.  Father Paanakker, in the mean time, occupied one of the 9x12 feet sacristies, for his residence.  Some time after he bought a two-story frame house, and moved it on the other lot for a priest's house, at a cost of $850.  The location of the church property is in the residence portion of South Bend.

     The school is conducted by lay-teachers, having been taught at one time, for two years, by two Sisters of the Holy Cross.  Father Paanakker's pastorate ceased with his death, on February 23, 1906.  His successor Rev. Peter P. Klein, C. S. C., took charge of the parish on March 25, 1906, and with his advent new life and spirit was infused into the congregation.  Necessary repairs and improvements were made on the church, school and priest's house, giving all the buildings a fresh coat of paint, and enlarging the organ loft, so as to make room for the children.  He also paid some of the debt.  Father Klein departed this life October 6, 1906.  The newly ordained priest Rev. Alphonse Just, C. S. C., was his successor and is the pastor at the present time.

       The Sacred Heart Parish has these societies:  The St. Vincent de Paul's Society, for Married Men; the Holy Name Society, for Single Men; the Children of Mary, for Single Women; the Altar Boys' Society and the Holy Angels' Society, for the children.  At the present time the parish numbers about eighty families.  The debt on the church property is about $5,000.

2001 update:
St. Joseph County is encompassed by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend (Indiana).

 In the book: The Diocese of Fort Wayne: Fragments of History, Vol. II, in 1941, Most. Rev. Noll reports that Rev. Alphonse Just, C. S. C., was succeeded by Charles Stuer, a secular priest, and then the parish was pastored by Diocesan priests.  The Rev. Charles Fisher became the pastor in 1908, and that year built the school which was served by the Dominican Sisters.  He remained as pastor until 1921, when he was followed by Rev. G. Lecoutere.  Father Lecoutere served as pastor from 1921 until his retirement, due to illness, in 1935, and died shortly after his retirement.  While pastor of the Sacred Heart Church, he built the rectory.  In September, Rev. Edmund J. Philippe, a native of Belgium, became the pastor.  During Father Philippe's pastorate, an addition was made to the rectory and the church was completely renovated.  He was assisted by priests from Notre Dame, and remained as pastor at least until 1941.
     The Sacred Heart Church is no longer listed, among the South Bend parishes, in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Directory.

Source: The Diocese of Fort Wayne, 1857-September 22-1907, A Book of Historical Reference, 1669-1907. By the Rt. Rev. H. J. Alerding. Fort Wayne:

Items of Historical Interest


          Belgian Immigrants in St. Joseph County

Sixty –seven years after the first Belgian came to South Bend the first Belgian church was completed. Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church on Thomas Street has served the community since 1898.


The first Belgian whose name is not recorded in the history of the local parish came to South Bend in 1831. The reason he came was because of his friendship for Father de Seille, missionary priest.


During the next 50 years few Belgians came to the community, but after 1880 there was a greater influx and the need for a Belgian priest arose. A Flemish speaking priest came to South Bend to care for the needs of the families, until Fr. Henry Paanakker was ordained, August 19, 1896, and was appointed soon after his ordination. (1)


In 1880, only an occasional Flemish name could be found here and there among the inhabitants of South Bend and the farm country west of the city.


During the next 10 years the number of Belgian immigrants increased and by the end of the decade, the Belgians in the area numbered approximately 400.


On the Sunday following his ordination, Father Paanakker celebrated his first mass for the Belgians, preaching to them in their native tongue. His first act was to take a complete census of the parish. He visited 104 Belgian families scattered about the city and neighboring rural area.


The lack of money forced the Belgians to use St. Patrick's church where Fr. Paanakker said mass every Sunday at 9 a.m.


In the spring of 1898, money became available for Fr. Paanakker to purchase two lots on Thomas Street for $1800. On one of the lots he erected the church building for $8,000.


The carpenters for the new church were Carpenter & Company, and the inside work was done by P. Schaubroeck. The cornerstone was laid on the feast of the Sacred Heart. In June of 1898 the church was blessed, and the first mass was celebrated there on August 15.


J. B. Nieuwland who donated the church bell had the honor of ringing it for the first church service.


The first funeral was that of the same Jean Batiste Nieuwland who died three weeks later. He was the father of Rev. Julius Nieuwland, who was the acting pastor of Sacred Heart Church. The parish records show that Alice Sargeant was the first baby baptized in the church. Alphons DeFeeuw and Pharilda Blannkaert were the first couple to be married in the new facility. The trustees of the young parish were P. Debaets, E. Haerent and A. Sargeant.


Once the church was built, the pastor spared no time or labor to put the congregation on a solid, well organized footing.


Small were the means he could dispose of, and his parishioners were spread widely throughout the city and rural area. They were mostly newcomers, unacquainted with, and as yet, unadapted to the ways of this new country.


He struggled against the indifference and aloofness of a great many among them. He, himself had few comforts of life. Having no parish house, Rev Paanakker lived in the sacristy of the church. This small area served as office, study, bedroom and kitchen. A year later, an old frame house was purchased for $800, moved to the church grounds and furnished as a pastorial residence.


In September, 1899, the parochial school was opened in the basement of the church. There was an enrollment of 110 pupils. The first teachers were Miss O'Connor and Miss Mc Evilly. Two years later the school was turned over to the Sisters of St. Mary's.  


The ladies of the parish organized a Rosary Society, which cared for the church and altar. And the young ladies established their Sodality. Some of the more active and progressive men formed a chapter of the St. Vincent DePaul Society for the sake of promoting their spiritual interest and assisting one another financially in time of need, sickness or death.


A dramatic club, Voor Moedertaal en Broedermin” (For Mother Tongue and Brother Love) was founded in 1908 with P. Schaubroeck as president and L. Kindt, as director. It not only provided wholesome and instructive recreation for the people of the parish but also financial help to the Pastor.


After eight years of hard work and privation, Father Paanakker's health began to deteriorate. He fell ill on Christmas Day, following a high mass. He was sent to Texas with hope that a milder climate might help his health. He died in 1908.


In the interim Fr. Nieuwland directed the parish; however his service as a professor at Notre Dame could not be spared. He was replaced by Fr P.P. Klein who arrived in March 1906. He was followed by Fr. Alfons Just who had spent several years working in the foreign missions. One year later his superiors were in need of his assistance as a professor and sent him to Watertown, WI.


All of the priest had been members of the congregation of Holy Cross. Because the order no longer had a Flemish speaking priest available, Bishop Alerding asked Fr. Stuer of St. Bavo's Church in Mishawaka to take charge of Sacred Heart. Under his direction many repairs and improvements were made to the church. In preparation for the next Pastor Rev. Charles Fischer, who Fr. Stuer had secured in Rochester, NY.


Father Ficher was at Sacred heart longer than any of his predecessors. It was he who erected a new school, a substantial brick building with four large rooms and a beautiful hall. After many years of service Father Fischer's health began to fail.  He was followed by Father G. Lacoutere, from Kansas who served until 1935 when he transferred to Logansport to serve as director of St. Josephs Hospital.


Father E. Philippe came to South Bend and Sacred Heart Parish after 16 years of service as a missionary worker among the Indians of the Mississippi. He went to New York as assistant director of the Belgian Bureau, then to Chicago were he established a second Bureau. 


Father Joseph P Horvath became the last Pastor of Sacred Heart and he is ultimately assigned to the new Church Corpus Christi Parish. (2)


Old Churches don't die, they're just locked up!


Following Sunday August 27, 1973 two masses at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. the original Sacred Heart Church will officially close its doors to any future services.


“It's all because of a lack of manpower” Rev. Joseph P Horvath said reluctantly “The shortage of priests is critical”


The Sacred Heart members remained staunchly loyal to the original church over the years taking great pride in the Belgian heritage. At the end about 250 parishioners will be absorbed into the new Corpus Christi Parish. (3)



(1) … South Bend Tribune, 9-30-1934

(2) … South Bend Tribune, 9-10-1989, Henry Verslype 

(3) … South Bend Tribune, 8-27-1973, Gertrude Pontius

Catholic Churches of St. Joseph County

Source University of Notre Dame Archives

Information was submitted by: Jim Piechorowski and John Kovatch


Created: Thursday, August 18, 2005, 4:42:27 PM

Updated: Wednesday, December 21, 2005 06:31:42 PM


Saint Joseph County, Indiana INGenWeb Site