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History of Sacred Heart Parish

Sacred Heart Parish includes Sacred Heart Church in Middleborough and St. Rose of Lima Church in Rochester. Wwe are in a collaborative with St. Martha & Mary, in Lakeville. The collaborative seeks to provide united efforts in meeting the needs of the wider community.

In 2005, St. Rose of Lima Parish was merged with Sacred Heart Parish in Middleborough. Today, Masses are celebrated at both locations. Staff members share responsibilities and parishioners have many opportunities to come together with one another, sharing in ministry and fellowship.

Sacred Heart Church In Middleborough

In 1870, church services were held monthly in the hall over the general store of Colonel Peter H. Pierce, the current site of the Middleborough Police Department. In the small hall over the store, as they sat upon boxes and crates, they optimistically prayed, with steadfast faith for a Catholic Church in Middleborough. Their prayers were answered in 1873 when land was acquired for the purpose of constructing a Catholic Church in Middleborough. The actual building however, was postponed for seven years due to financial problems. On July 12, 1881, Archbishop John Joseph Williams blessed the cornerstone and dedicated the small, humble but attractive wooden building: the Sacred Heart Church. In 1885 Sacred Heart was declared a separate parish.

The beautiful, redbrick building of English Gothic architecture that is standing today was built in the years 1917-18. On June 9, 1918, His Eminence, William Cardinal O'Connell, blessed the cornerstone and performed the dedication. Sacred Heart Church has grown a great deal since 1881. Nearby the church that stands today, there is the Rectory, the Fr. Shea Center and Parish Hall which is host to many church events. The church also owns land on Wood St. for use as a cemetery: St. Mary's Cemetery. Since 1891 St. Mary's Cemetery has provided us an opportunity to show respect for our beloved dead.

Source: The Middleborough Antiquarian Volume XI, September 1969, Number I, pp. 6-8

St. Rose of Lima Church in Rochester

The history of the Rochester Catholic Community is very much tied into the history of Sts. Martha and Mary. On May 12, 1958, the parish of Sts. Martha and Mary came into being. In early May of 1958 Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, signed the decree that formed the parish of Sts. Martha and Mary to encompass the towns of Lakeville and Rochester. Cardinal Cushing named Rev. Francis J. Greene as Sts. Martha and Mary’s first pastor. Fr. Greene’s first task was to find a place to celebrate Mass in Lakeville and then to build the church. Fr. Greene celebrated his first Mass in Lakeville at the Lakeville Sanitarium where he was also the chaplain. The following summer Fr. Greene decided to take advantage of the warm summer months and arranged for a 60 ft. by 40 ft. tent to be placed on the church grounds next to the parish house, the site of the current church building. The outdoor Masses soon became impractical as the colder weather moved in. A barn happened to be attached to the rectory and was quickly renovated into a makeshift place to celebrate Mass. The average attendance was 1,000 parishioners. While far from complete, on Palm Sunday, 1959, the upper church was finished so that Mass could be celebrated. On May 22, 1959, the church was formally dedicated as a parish church.

Meanwhile the people of Rochester were greatly concerned in as much as the new church to which they were assigned was just as far away from them as was Middleborough with the added difficulty of the poor road between here and Rochester. In October 1958 permission was granted to hold Masses and conduct catechism classes in the Rochester Grange Hall. Fr. Greene began to look for land in Rochester on which to build a church. In April of 1959 land was purchased on Vaughan Hill Road in Rochester and the foundation was laid in September of 1960. St. Rose of Lima remained as a chapel under Sts. Martha and Mary until 1979, at which time St. Rose of Lima became a separate parish in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Today St. Rose of Lima is a part of the Sacred Heart Parish of Middleborough. The Rochester faith community is a strong and vibrant community full of hospitality and love.

Source: Sts. Martha & Mary Historical Souvenir Book, 1983.



"The parish is a living time capsule. Our founding parishioners left no cylinder buried under the sod... nor have we. There is no need. The parish is a living time capsule, fusing past and future. We are, partly, what has been. Part of what will be we are now fashioning. The faith of many who have gone before and of those we have yet to meet, strengthens ours and guides our hands. May our work be pleasing to the Lord."

Source: Sts. Martha & Mary
Historical Souvenir Book, 1983.

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