Franklin History Book - The Sacred Heart Catholic Church
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Father Patrick Joseph O'Reilly, then the pastor of Virden, Illinois, started the Sacred Heart Parish in 1886, and built a church building 100 x 40 feet with a seating capacity for 400. The church cost $10,000. But on May 4, 1893, the church and rectory were completely destroyed by fire. It was believed to have been started by a painter's torch that was left burning nearby.

The cornerstone of the new brick building was laid on August 15, 1893 by Bishop Ryan of Alton, who came especially to encourage the people in their efforts to rebuild. The new church structure, 120 x 46 feet, with a seating capacity for 500, was ready for mass on January 1, 1894. The edifice had cost $18,000. A new rectory was also built at this time. Members of the small congregation supplied the church with the articles necessary for Catholic worship. The Gothic spire is 193 feet high and has always been a landmark to the citizens of the community.

Northeast of Franklin, ten acres of land was purchased from Charles Beerup to be used as a cemetery.

Father O'Reilly was succeeded by Fr. Patrick Lyons in 1897. He remained until 1904 and was followed by Fr. William McGuire, who died here in 1914. His replacement was Fr. Andrew Smith who served until 1925 when he was transferred to Decatur. He died there in 1948. Father Butler succeeded to the position in 1925 coming from the Waverly Parish which he retained as a mission. He left Franklin for Hardin in 1936, and died there in January of 1957. Father Michael Kearns was then transferred here from Alton. He was pastor only until 1958. It was during this time that the church building was completely redecorated. Father Kearns was followed by Father Cassidy, and in 1959, a new hall was constructed near the parish to replace the old Marquette Hall which was destroyed by fire in 1954. Father Angel Sierra is the present pastor. The church has a membership of approximately 200, and is blessed with a beautiful place of worship.


Sacred Heart Parish in 1982