Sacred Heart Church
Hopedale in June
Twenty-five years ago – June 1995 - An Air Force F-16 piloted by Captain Scott O'Grady is shot
down over Bosnia and Herzegovina while patrolling the NATO no-fly zone. O'Grady is rescued by U.S.
Marines six days later.
Space Shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian Mir space station for the first time.
Fifty years ago – June 1970 - The United States gets its first female generals, Anna Mae Hays and
Elizabeth P. Hoisington.
Penn Central declares Section 77 bankruptcy, the largest ever US corporate bankruptcy up to this
The United States Senate repeals the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964.
U.S. ground troops withdraw from Cambodia.
News items above are from Wikipedia. Hopedale news from June 1920 can be seen below
this text box.
Hopedale’s Sacred Heart Now Has 2,500 As Parishioners
HOPEDALE – Sept. 1985 – Fifty years ago, there were 200 people listed as members of the newly
established Sacred Heart Church. Since the first Mass was said in the former Hopedale High School
building on Hopedale Street in 1935, the number of parishioners has grown at a phenomenal rate and
today is listed as 2,500.
The 50th birthday of the parish will be celebrated on Sunday with a Mass at 10:30 in the church which
is located in a spot adjacent to the old High School building, which is scheduled for demolition.
Rev. Francis Pitroff, whose first assignment after ordination was the new Sacred Heart Church in
Hopedale will celebrate the Mass. Fr. Pitroff will be observing his 50th year in the priesthood. Bishop
Bernard J. Flanagan, retired Bishop of the Worcester Diocese will preside at the Mass.
Rev. Pitroff, who was a curate when the church here was established returned to Hopedale’s Sacred
Heart Church to serve as pastor in 1968 to witness first-hand the growth of the church, proof of the
success of his work with then-pastor Rev. John H. Donahue during his first assignment.
Hopedale, in 1935 was included in the Diocese of Springfield. According to those who have lived here
for many years, the diocese owned a parcel of land on upper Freedom Street, near the Milford town
line. That land was purchased by the former Draper Corporation sometime around the time the
Corporation presented the diocese with the school building and the property it was located on.
On June 24, 1935, voters at a special town meeting voted unanimously to sell and convey the Draper
Corporation, the land, building and small house on Hopedale Street formerly owned by the town and
used as a school. The premises had initially been conveyed to the town by Hopedale Machine
The Draper Corporation in turn presented the property, with the former high school building properly
remodeled to the Bishop of Diocese of Springfield.
The first services at the church were conducted on Oct. 27, 1935 by Rev. J.P. Donahue. Masses were
said at 7:30 and 10 a.m. The dedication was held on Nov. 10 with Bishop Thomas M. O’Leary of
Springfield celebrating a Pontifical High Mass.
Up until the time that the parish was started, those who followed the Catholic faith in a town dominated
by those of the Protestant faith walked or took the streetcar to Milford to attend Masses at St. Mary’s
As the parish grew, Rev. Thomas Connellan, pastor in 1960 recognized a need within it. The parish
population was approaching 1800. It became apparent that a new church would be needed. The old
church with its split altar and seating would no longer meet the needs of the larger parish.
On Aug. 20, 1963 excavation for the new church began and on Aug. 28, 1964 the new church was
dedicated by Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan. The old building was retained and utilized for religious
education classes and for a host of parish organizations. The building was used up until a new parish
center was constructed this year.
The new church was constructed at a cost of $300,000 in 1963. The parish center, which is
connected to the church, was dedicated on April 27 of this year.
Sacred Heart Church hosted the first Ecumenical Service conducted in town, which was held on Jan.
19, 1969. Rev. Pitroff gave the welcome message and the late Rev. Joseph Alen of the Unitarian
Church offered the prayer and meditation. Rev. Edward Mahan, curate of Sacred Heart Church, read
the scripture and led the recitations. Rev. John N. Simpson, then pastor of Union Evangelical Church,
delivered the sermon.
The Ecumenical Service was totally symbolic of the changes which had occurred both in the Catholic
Church and in the Town of Hopedale over the course of almost 35 years. Over 750 people attended
the service, signifying a community united through religion.-. Milford Daily News, September 1985.
Clipping saved by John Butcher
Much more on the Sacred Heart 50th anniversary, and the Fr. Reilley Center
History of Sacred Heart Church Early years at Sacred Heart by Don McGrath
Sacred Heart Church by Gordon Hopper Sacred Heart stained glass windows
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Hopedale News - June 1920