OUR RICH HISTORY
The broad ethnicity of parishioners that we rejoice in today emanated from the Polish people who began to settle in Danbury in the late 1800's. Families from Massachusetts and New Jersey began to join them and by 1920, there were well over one hundred families. Pressed by the need to educate their children, they opened a school in 1924. Realizing that it would be very difficult to manage the school without the support of the Church, these families obtained permission from the Bishop of Hartford to organize a Church for the Polish community. The Franciscan Conventual Friars agreed to staff the parish and appointed Fr. Bernard Gwitt as the first pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. Their first masses were held in the basement of what was then the town's city hall. In the spring of 1925 the property where the church now stands was purchased for one dollar and other valuable considerations. Within four months over twenty thousand dollars was collected and construction of the new church began almost immediately.
On October 18, 1925, two thousand people witnessed Monsignor Thomas Duggan, Vicar-General of the Hartford Diocese, laying the corner stone. They assembled at the Polish Hall on Ives Street and marched in a body to the church.On April 8, 1926 the dedication of the church was celebrated. Fr. Gwitt remained as pastor until 1935.
In the mid-1940's a convent was built for the Sisters and a school for the children. In 1947, there were five Sisters on the faculty and 107 enrolled in the school. On October 5, 1951 Sacred Heart School was opened. Enrollment quickly outgrew the building and in 1955 a second story was added.
The same drive, desire, sacrifice and religious fervor to serve The Lord that our founders displayed has not waned through the years. I During the mid 1970's a new floor, new pews and a confessional were added. In 1982, the men of the parish came together, painted the church and along with other improvements, air conditioning was installed. In October and November of 1996, the tired pipe organ was removed, the choir loft renovated and a new digital organ was installed.
In 2014, the Franciscan Friars made the difficult decision to leave us. We are currently alive and thriving as a Parish which operates under the auspices of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish through the years