History of Sacred Heart


As early as 1835 Mass was said in Columbia by Rev. Fr. LaFevre at the residence of John H. Lynch, whose family was the only one of the Catholic faith in the town at the time.

– Switzler’s History of Boone County – 1881


From that humble beginning we have the seed that grew to a vibrant, constantly growing Catholic faith community in Columbia.

The early settlers were graced by pioneer priests who braved all kinds of weather and traveling conditions to carry the Eucharist from home to home. It was not until 1876-77 that Mass was celebrated on a regular basis and a parish was established. Mass was first said in people’s homes and then at a more central location, the County Courthouse. Bishop Ryan offered the first Mass in the Courthouse on June 3, 1877, and on the same day delivered the baccalaureate address to the students at the University.

While Mass was held in the Courthouse, a new church was being built on the corner of Locust Street and Grand Avenue. Mrs. Catherine Lynch Clapp is given much of the credit for the original church building. “It was she who secured the greater part of the subscription, who superintended a great part of the construction of the building, saw to the proper furnishings and equipment, and subscribed herself sums of money much beyond her means.

The first Mass in the new Sacred Heart Church was celebrated on June 19, 1881, and finally in 1886 the church was dedicated.

In 1908 Fr. Thomas Lloyd, pastor, envisioned a new and larger church. The parish was showing a healthy growth, and each year more students were coming to the University to continue their studies.

With a sincere trust in the help of Divine Providence and a deep confidence in the future of Columbia and its Catholic parish, Fr. Lloyd went ahead with his plans for the new church. He envisioned a building which would serve the parish for many years and would leave upon the minds of the students, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, a lasting impression of the worth and beauty of the Catholic religion.

The old frame church was moved back on the lot to make room for the new structure. Work progressed and as the new church took shape, the parishioners watched with pride and anticipation. The cornerstone was laid on Feb. 22, 1914.

Early in the morning of Aug. 18 Fr. Lloyd was awakened by the sister superior of the school. The barn adjacent to the old church was on fire. Fr. Lloyd hurried to the church before the flames reached it, but was helpless to do anything to stop the fire. By the time the fire department arrived the old church was beyond saving.

The new church was dedicated on Nov 8, 1914 by Archbishop Glennon who also administered the Sacrament of Confirmation. The total cost of the new building was $30,000, and all but $800 of it was paid at the time of the dedication. The 50 families who comprised the membership of the parish financed the project entirely by donations.

In 1927 a new brick convent and school were built to replace the existing frame buildings. These are just north of the church. And the cornerstone of the Activity Building was laid on Nov. 21, 1950.

In the fall of 2006 badly needed restoration work was begun on the interior of the church. It was the intent to restore the building to its original theme. The study and vision of Kathy Miller along with the hard work of many dedicated volunteers produced the result we see today. Exterior lighting was enhanced, creating a night time park-like atmosphere. In the spring of 2007 the landscaping project was begun and is an ongoing labor of love. Fall of 2009 saw the transformation of the convent turned rectory into a parish Gathering Space which serves as classrooms and meeting rooms. In the spring of 2015 the Gathering Space was turned into the Parish Office and rectory.

Parishioners of Sacred Heart are a resilient, warm and welcoming family, a culturally diverse community learning from one another, growing both spiritually and in social awareness. Join us as parishioners on the journey.