The Catholic presence in the town of Hopedale began in the early 1900s when Irish, French, and Italian workers came to Hopedale to work in the Draper Corporation factory, a manufacturer of textile looms. These new workers also brought their Catholic faith into a community, which was predominantly Protestant. In these early years, the spiritual needs of Hopedale’s Catholics were provided by St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Milford.
With the building of a new high school in 1928, planning for the first Catholic Church in Hopedale began. The former school buildings and property were sold to the Draper Corporation, which, in turn, deeded the lot and buildings to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield. (Milford and Hopedale were part of the Springfield Diocese prior to the inception of the Worcester Diocese.) Remodeling for Hopedale’s first church and rectory began in August 1935 and Mass was celebrated for the first time on October 26, 1935, by the newly appointed pastor, Fr. John H. Donahue. On November 15, 1935, the Most Reverend Thomas O’Leary, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, dedicated Sacred Heart Parish of Hopedale.
Over the years, the parish grew steadily, and in 1960, Fr. Thomas J. Connellan, then pastor, spearheaded a drive to raise funds for the new, larger church, collecting $150,000 for the project. Excavation began on August 20, 1963, and on August 28, 1964, the Most Reverend Bernard J. Flanagan, Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, dedicated the completed church building.
The former church was used as the parish center and religious education building until the growth of the community required a larger facility.
In 1982, parishioners and their pastor, Fr. Bernard R. Reilley, began planning a new parish center (now named the Bernard R. Reilley Parish Center), to provide a gathering space for social and spiritual activities of the parish, as well as to provide classrooms for the religious education program. Ground breaking for the new center took place on July 7, 1984.
On April 27, 1985, the Most Reverend Timothy J. Harrington, third Bishop of Worcester, dedicated the new center. The old church building/parish center was demolished and the parking lot expanded.
Through the years, Sacred Heart has enjoyed an active parish community and for history buffs, check out the page dedicated to the church from the local Hopedale history site. Today, there are more than thirty active ministries and activities that support the needs of our parish family and the universal church.
It is our hope that new parishioners will join us as we grow in faith and love to continue the mission of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.