About Us
1817 First Street
Bethlehem, PA 18020
(610) 865-5042
History of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish

Sacred Heart Parish, in the Miller Heights section of Bethlehem Township, traces its history back to 1935 when a woman named Josephine Sakovics opened her parents’ home to children for religious education classes. She decided the 67 children needed larger quarters when the children were interested in presenting a Christmas program for their parents and friends. Through contacts, she was able to secure an old blacksmith shop located on Willow Park Road and, with the assistance from Mary Klopach, planted the seeds for faith for Sacred Heart Sunday school.

In the summer of 1935, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Leo G. Fink of the Philadelphia Archdiocese noticed a large placard advertising a Sunday school picnic under the auspices of the Sacred Heart Sunday school. Knowing there was no other Sacred Heart affiliation, since he was the pastor of the Sacred Heart Church of Allentown, discovered that this was a private undertaking.

On Mission Sunday, October 20, 1935, the Archdiocese granted permission for Msgr. Fink to celebrate the first Mass in the one-time blacksmith shop and the response to religious services prompted church officials to organize a missionary chapel for the Miller Heights area.

Shortly thereafter, a church was constructed under the direction of the first pastor, Father Joseph May, and was dedicated on September 20, 1936 by Cardinal Dougherty. The church held 149 people.

As the parish rapidly grew, there was a need for a school and a larger church. Under the guidance of Father Francis Gilly, who served as pastor from 1950 to 1974, the parish school was built on Second Street. The school was dedicated on June 27, 1954 by Cardinal John O’Hara. The Sisters of Saint Joseph and Saint Francis staffed the school from 1953-1984. The school fulfilled the educational and spiritual needs of our children until its closing in 2010.

In 1964, the present church was erected at First Street and Freemansburg Avenue. The pastor looked to the future and build a church that holds 800 people and an auditorium seating 700 with a stage and kitchen.

Much progress has been made since 1936, when a small group of people worked diligently to fulfill a dream, that of having their own parish and church. They set a find example with their devotion and dedication which as been recognized, appreciated and imitated by succeeding generations. At present time, Sacred Heart Parish is home to 1000 registered families.

Father Joseph May 1936-1950
Father Francis Gilly 1950-1974
Father William Bigos 1974-1981
Father Joseph Braudis 1981-1982
Father Thomas King 1982-2008
Father Robert J. George 2008-Present