Sacred Heart Church, Newton

Sacred Heart Church, Newton

[lead dropcap="yes"]We attended a baptism of some friends' daughter at Sacred Heart Church in Newton on Saturday. It is a beautiful church built in an Italianate style. I'm no architect expert, but it had the feel of architecture around Assisi.[/lead]

The church has a fascinating history. At the front, to the left of the sanctuary is a portrait and a bronze plaque with text of a letter from Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the Vatican Secretary of State, in the 1930s, thanking the parish for its hospitality in hosting him for a brief stay. Beside the plaque is a very large, very old paschal candle from the Vatican, which was obviously a thank-you gift. Cardinal Pacelli would go on to become Pope Paul VI Pius XII.

Speaking of bishops, the parish has a history of pastors who became bishops. Cardinal Spellman of New York was its pastor at the time he received his episcopal appointment and then Cardinal Cushing was pastor before becoming archbishop of Boston. He was followed by another pastor who became an auxiliary. How you'd like to be the guy who followed him and didn't become bishop?

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  • Pacelli became Pius XII…Montini became Paul VI. Cardinal Spellman at one point donated a chalice to the parish in memory of his aunt, a CSJ.

    The guy who became pastor after Bishop Cushing was named ordinary of the Archdiocese was Bishop Eric F. MacKenzie (known as “The Bish” to students at the parochial school), Presiding Judge of the Archdiocesan Tribunal and President of the American Canon Law Society…and very well loved by his parishioners. His coat of arms was hung from a prie dieu in the sanctuary. I was there the day a curate removed it following The Bish’s passing.

    Monsignor William Granville succeeded MacKenzie. Granville was a professor at St John’s seminary as was his successor, John Connelly.

    BTW Bishop Joseph Maguire, while Secretary to the Archbishop and before being named ordinary of Springfield, MA, was in residence and often said Mass at SH. He was famous for testing altar boys immediately before processing out with such questions as: Q:Why did they bury the Scotsman on the side of the hill? Ans: He was dead…

    In spring 1967 three limos (with news cameras in tow) pulled up outside the school: one for Cardinal Spellman, one for Cardinal Cushing and one for Bishop, later Cardinal, Wright…all greeted by Bishop MacKenzie, for a special being done on Cardinal Spellman’s life. My 4th grade teacher, Sister Marie Bernadette, CSJ, high-tailed it out of class and was so pleased she was the first person to kiss Cardinal Spellman’s ring. How things change.

    The sanctuary has undergone quite a bit of changes. The high altar was removed …and later the mensa that had been saved was significantly reduced. The side altars have been removed. Quite a few pews have been removed. And, a wash of “Catholic beige” has been applied over much of the apse.