Blessed Sacrament History

Bishop Heelan established Blessed Sacrament in 1922. The first pastor, Father T.M. Couglan, and 226 families celebrated mass in the North Junior High School auditorium. In 1923, the Parish purchased lots at 31st and Jackson St. to build Blessed Sacrament School.

The school was completed in 1924 and mass was celebrated in the basement for several years. The Dominican Sisters taught classes in the school. Monsignor Newman Flanagan, pastor from 1933 until his death in 1973, was instrumental in the planning and building of a new church, convent, and rectory. Despite delays caused by such things as the Great Depression and World War II, construction was finally completed, and on September 4, 1955, Monsignor Flanagan presided over the first mass in the new church.

Monsignor Richard Sweeney led the Parish for 16 years beginning in 1973. He was followed by Father Lawrence Burns, V.F., from 1989 to 1996, who initiated a steering committee to create a parish council under a directive from Bishop Soens. In 1993, the church and tower underwent major structural repairs. The school also experienced major renovations to modernize it to current condition. Also in 1993, Blessed Sacrament was “clustered” with St. Michael’s Parish as part of the Diocesan Ministry 2000 Program.

The goal of Ministry 2000, and its clustering component, is to be proactive to the anticipated decline in the number of priests by combining the talents, gifts, and programs of both parishes where appropriate. In 1997, Blessed Sacrament Parish celebrated its 75th Anniversary Jubilee under the guidance of Father Tom Geelan, who became pastor in 1996.

In September 1998, a new carillon (bell system) was installed, replacing the original one, which had been inoperable for several years. It was dedicated in memory of Monsignor Flanagan.

In December of 1999, the rectory suffered severe damage from a fire. In response the parish took time to analyze our future needs and developed an extensive plan, which not only repaired the fire damage, but also addressed other long-range improvements. Under the leadership of Father Tom Geelan, a Capital Campaign was initiated to cover the costs of these improvements. The most significant change was purchasing a duplex for a new rectory, and converting the former rectory into a parish center. Several other improvements were accomplished for both the church and school.

Today, with the energetic leadership provided by Father Merlin J. Schrad, who became pastor in 2002, Blessed Sacrament is the spiritual home of over 1100 families.