Sacred Heart Catholic Church recognizes 17 members attending the parish for more than 75 years
Sacred Heart Catholic Church is home for so many, filled with family, friends and memories that last a lifetime. Seventeen of those parishioners were recognized on June 28 for their near-lifetime membership with the church. The Feast of the Sacred Heart honored those who have reached 75 years or more in continuous attendance.
“I was born right there on a street next to the church,” said John Reimer, 95. “I went to the greatest school in history – to the kindergarten and grade school there… The church was built in 1875. I don’t think a lot of people realize that. The beautiful altar, it’s all hand carved. Friends and neighbors come from all over to see the beauty of the church.”
The Feast of Sacred Heart was June 27. The parish celebrated on June 28 with a 5 p.m. mass and a reception dinner following. Those included in this year’s 75-year recognition is Ann Brown, Mary Butler, Emma Jean Duncan, Bill Fisher, Alberta Heinzelman, Tom Metzler, Rosemary Miller, Julia O’Farrell, John Reimer, Betty VanBlaricum, Gene Weimer, Yvonna Ancelet, Hilda Cralley, Dorothy Irish, Alice (Wehlage) Kilgore, Lillian Langer and Richard Wehlage. Many of those members were going to the church since before they were born – such as Betty VanBlaricum, 81. Her mother and father went there, her grandmother went there and three of her six children still attend.
“At the beginning, (I attended because) I was raised there,” VanBlaricum said. “It was just a part of my life that my life revolved around the church. That, I think, is a great thing for people. The greatest thing is that your family can be involved in your life at the church. One time, we moved out on the Eastside. I was closer to another church; it just wasn’t home to me. Sacred Heart was home to me. There was nothing I could think of that would make me change.”
In its prime, everything in the neighborhood revolved around the church, said William Fisher, 78. He said there was a room with pool tables and a jukebox for the Christian Youth Organization. Children chose to congregate there instead of elsewhere. The parish held numerous large events and festivities throughout the year. There was also a grade school and a high school, which has long since been torn down.
“When you had the school and the parish you had more dynamism,” Fisher said. “They are more interested in things that happened in the area. When the schools closed down, people moved out of the area so now half or more live outside of the area and come here so there has been movement in the parishioners and the congregations.”
What has kept these members attending Sacred Heart is everything from its history to the friendships formed throughout those years.
“One of the main attractions for me at the church is the people. I know the people pretty well and they know me,” Fisher said. “To give up that friendship and go to some other parish would be pretty hard for me. I’m just grateful to the Lord that he gave us a parish that is close and that I am so fond of. I am hopeful for the future.”
The memories of the prominent church don’t fade – from a baptism, first communion to a wedding day. Reimer said he served in WWII and once he came home, he was at church the next day.
“I remember I came back in December, 1945,” Reimer said. “The next morning they rang those bells. Those beautiful bells, when they started ringing I sat straight up.”
With time, the neighborhood has declined in its upkeep, many past residents have moved away although some have stayed or continue to attend their childhood church.
“I hope that it will always be there for the people,” VanBlaricum said. “I think Sacred Heart has done a lot for the people in the neighborhood. Although the neighborhood there has gone down, the church has been relatively a mainstay. I hope it continues to be that.”
Volunteering from the Heart
Angels from the Heart volunteers work to repair and beautify its Southside Indianapolis neighborhood
What used to be a one-day event for volunteers of Angels from the Heart will soon transition into an ongoing activity – painting houses, repairing fences and concrete, doing yard work and cleaning gutters. The organization from Sacred Heart Catholic Church has worked with other churches, businesses and community groups since 2000 to repair and upkeep its Southside Indianapolis neighborhood.
“When you think back to the times that area was settled, it was a very strong, German area,” said John Sauter, volunteer. “When you look at it now, it’s probably 40 percent rentals. It’s an area of the city that hasn’t caught on from a development standpoint. That area around Sacred Heart Church has been slow to be developed – and it’s right on the Meridian Street Corridor. You can see Lucas Oil Stadium from it. I wanted to see what we could do to prompt some activity.”
Sauter began volunteering for the organization more than four years ago. He said even though he lives on the Northside, he has such strong ties to the church and the neighborhood that he wanted to see what he could do to help increase the amount of volunteers present and the amount of work that can get completed. They held the Angels from the Heart event earlier this spring. He said it wasn’t the best time of year for the event, so for 2015, it is moved to the fall.
“We were disappointed with the turnout this year,” Sauter said. “It was a lot lower than we’ve gotten in the past. We had a general feedback session prior to this year and we were told it wasn’t an efficient use of my time. I’m hoping we have a better turnout this year because we have worked out those things.”
Sauter is working with groups such as Marion University to gain more volunteers, since students must meet a certain amount of hours doing community work. He said that he is also working to find skilled volunteers such as brick masons and carpenters and with economic development groups to identify the areas which have a greater need. Once those projects and appropriate people have been identified, he said they will be able to work more than just the one day.
“You can’t paint a house in a day,” Sauter said. “You can’t fix concrete steps in a day. This year we had three requests for concrete work. This winter was hard on concrete. I couldn’t find a concrete mason to do those projects. You want the results to be long-lasting and that’s a real challenge.”
Sauter said that the people who come to volunteer always leave feeling good about what they have accomplished, especially when the homeowners can come out and show their gratitude.
“We’re just trying to help the neighborhood,” Sauter said. “You have a lot of people that have lived there their whole life. Helping the aged population that is there; that’s important. It becomes a challenge because they really are unable to help themselves and help others do these activities.”
For more information, visit sacredheartindy.org/angels.php.