The first religious activity in Lavaca County took place in the area surrounding the present St. Mary’s Catholic Church. When the first families came from Missouri and Kentucky, they chose the site near Smothers Creek for their homes. Mary Jane Hallet married Collantinus Ballard in 1840 and later they donated the land on which Sacred Heart Catholic Church was built.
While Mass was often said in many of the homes in the area, efforts were being made to establish a new parish in the town of Hallettsville. In 1873 definite steps were taken towards building Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Actual construction began in 1874, with Frederick (Fritz) Schulte Sr., as the chief stone mason in the early stages. He was paid $50.00 for digging a well on the north side of the church site for water to be used in construction.
On June 15, 1874, several workmen received $40.00 for digging and walling a lime kiln on the site where lime was burnt from limestone, not only as needed for church building, but also for other construction in town, thereby helping to defray expenses of the church. Subscribers to the project were found among Catholics, Protestants and Jews. In addition to the donations, money was raised through fairs (now called bazaars or picnics). The funds paid for the building and its equipment. The most valuable single item was the larger of two bells given by William Appelt in 1882. The cost of erecting Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Hallettsville, was approximately $35,000.00. It was completed in 1882. The new church building was built under the guidance of Fr. John Anthony Forest, who was consecrated 3rd Bishop of San Antonio on October 28, 1895.
A few religious from Lyons, France had brought the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament to America in 1852 at the invitation of Bishop Odin. Already over 200 years old, the congregation established their first American convent in Brownsville, expanding to Victoria in 1866. In 1877, they bought approximately three and one-half acres of land east of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church plot in Hallettsville, where a small convent building was erected for them in 1879. According to records from the Mother House, Victoria, Mother M. Louise Murray who would remain Mother Superior until 1900, together with her own sister, Sister Mary of the Cross Murray and Sister Martha Lopez established a convent and a school in 1882, with classes beginning on January 6. On February 19, 1950, the new school building was dedicated.
In 1969, the old Sacred Heart Catholic Church was taken apart and the new church building with a seating capacity of 700 was built at a cost of $200,000. A new church sign was erected by the church bell tower in August, 1971. The back of the sign contains the cornerstone of the old church, together with the historical mission cross which was made in 1876 by Fritz Schulte. The inscription on the cross stating in German, “Save your soul, a remembrance of the Holy Mission, 1876.”
The congregation numbers approximately 1,150 households. The present pastor is Father John Peters. Weekend Masses are Saturday evening at 5:30, and Sunday morning at 8:00 and 10:30. The Sunday 8:00 AM Mass is broadcast live every Sunday morning over local radio station KHLT - 1520 AM; KYKM - 92.5 FM and KTXM - 99.9 FM.
Original Church built 1882, Remodeled 1932
Original School built 1882, added onto 1891
Parish Hall constructed in 1936
Existing school plant built 1949
The top of the old school building was dismantled and the bottom floor was moved and remodeled into the Cafeteria and two classrooms in 1957.
School Annex built 1960
Rectory built 1960
New church built 1969
Band Hall built 1976
Parish Center and Gymnasium built 1981
Shop Building built 1981
New Cafeteria and Family Center built 1998
Pre-Kindergarten Center established 1998
Adoration Chapel established 2006
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