Sacred Heart Parish History
Prior to the establishment of Sacred Heart Parish, area Catholics were served by priests from St. John’s in Rensselaer and St. John’s in Valatie. Catholics traveled by horse, carriage and sometimes by boat to worship in Rensselaer often devoting an entire Sunday traveling to and from Mass. Every three months, Mass was celebrated in Sacred Heart Chapel in Castleton, a private home on Stimpson Avenue. Finally through the efforts of John Clifford,the old Van Hoesen’s Hall near the corner of South Main Street and Scott Avenue was rented as a worship space for local Catholics.
The Catholic population began to grow until 1887 when Bishop McNerney appointed Rev. William A. Browne as Pastor of the new Sacred Heart Parish in Castleton. The new parish’s missions were to include the faithful in Rensselaer and Columbia Counties as well as those in Coxsackie and Athens on the west side of the Hudson River.
On August 19, 1887, land was bought along Stimpson Avenue for $3000 which was paid by the end of the year. The cornerstone was laid in November 1887 and the building was dedicated approximately one year later by Bishop McNerney. An outstanding debt of $60,000 was owed for the construction of the church. It was paid off in nine years.
Sacred Heart School was instituted and by 1897, 82 students were enrolled in elementary and secondary classes.
Fr. Browne was transferred in 1897 and was replaced by Fr. Michael J. Looney followed by Fr. Robert Reilly. In 1913, the School had become overcrowded, and due to other reasons, it was closed.
Tragedy hit Sacred Heart when on March 5, 1919, Ash Wednesday, a major fire devastated the church. Except for its brick walls, the church was completely destroyed. The fire was believed to have been caused by a defect in the heating system. The parishioners worshipped at The Opera House on Main Street until a new church could be built.
Fr. Thomas Burns who came to Sacred Heart in 1919 oversaw the building of a new church at a cost of $46,000 which was paid by its completion.
Sacred Heart was reduced in size in 1921 when Schodack Landing and Stuyvesant became a separate parish. However, in 1985, Stuyvesant and Stuyvesant Falls were consolidated and The Church of Our Lady of The Assumption in Schodack Landing became a Mission of Sacred Heart. Schodack Landing was also the site of The Shrine of St. Jude.
At the unexpected death of Fr. Burns of a heart attack, Fr. Francis A, Roche was appointed as Administrator until Rev. William J. Halpin was appointed Pastor in January of 1929. He was followed by Father Pierre H. Levesque, Fr. Francis Schatzlein, and Fr. Francis Gostomski.
In 1953, Fr. James P. Lawlor was appointed Pastor. Due to shortages because of the World War II, the church fell into disrepair. Fr. Lawlor began a program to renew and beautify the church. Many improvements were made, needed repairs to the church structure were carried out, a parking lot was constructed and a garage was built. He also bought land to extend Sacred Heart Cemetery which was located next to the church.
In 1953, Fr. James Minehan became Pastor followed by Fr. Edward English, Fr. Joseph Halloran, and Fr. John Harzynski. He was replaced by Fr. James Fitzpatrick. Fr. Fitzpatrick guided the church through the many progressive changes of Vatican II including removing the altar rail, moving the altar, encouraging lay involvement through participation as Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers, introducing altar girls and forming the Parish Council.
He was replaced by Msgr. Joseph P. Conway who arrived in 1979. Msgr. Conway continued to lead the parish in implementing the decrees of Vatican II. He accepted the responsibility of Our Lady of The Assumption Church Schodack Landing as a Mission of Sacred Heart. He acquired the property for The New Sacred Heart Cemetery. He made improvements in the church by adding a side entrance and installing a barrier-fee lift. He also presided over the 100th Anniversary of the Parish. He retired in January of 1992.
He was replaced by The Very Reverend Thomas J. Krupa, the current Pastor. Many improvements were made to the property during these last few years including a renovation of the church, air conditioning, improvement in the church hall and repairs to the rectory. Many new programs for Faith Formation were introduced with a greater participation of the students through Youth Ministry Programs.
The Parish continues to thrive today and remains a vibrant sign of faith, love and service to the community.
Diocese Established: April 23, 1847
Area: 10,419 Square Miles
Total population of the 14 County Diocese: approx. 1,388,040
Catholic population of the 14 County Diocese: approx. 307,000
As of December 31, 2018
Diocesan Priests 173
Religious Order Priests 45
Ordained Deacons 108
Religious Brothers 62
Religious Sisters 490
Diocesan and Parish: 18
Diocesan School Teachers
Religious Brothers & Sisters: 4
Lay Teachers: 425
Religious Brothers & Sisters: 2
Lay Teachers: 54
Students: 8,000 (Approximate)
Lay Campus Ministers: 5
Religious Sister: 0
Catechetical and Youth Ministry Leaders: 174
Children and Youth (Elementary through High School): 14,094
Parish Faith Formation
Information included above
Catholic Hospitals: 3
Capacity: Approximately 750 Beds (including 75 Maternity Bassinets)
Convalescent, Rest Homes, Guest Houses, Homes for the Aged and Residences: 6
Social Service Agencies: 12
People Served: 77,894
Senior Citizen Housing: 15 communities in 15 locations throughout Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Delaware Counties.
Total Apts.: 893 one and two bedroom apartments and
56 two bedroom cottages
Retreat Houses and Houses of Prayer: 6
Religious Communities of Men in the Diocese: 9
Motherhouses, Novitiates and Scholasticates for Sisters: 4
Noviaties for Religious Sisters: 1
Religious Communities of Women in the Diocese: 18
Secular Institutes: 2