Gazette Article by Barbara Joyce, Winter 1998
Updated November 17. 2021
Since 1902, Sacred Heart School has been an integral part of its parish. The first pastor of the parish, Reverend Frederic J. Haarth, established the school 7 years after the church was founded.
Construction on the school began as soon as the church and rectory were completed. The first building, similar to the church in its Gothic style, conveniently housed both the school and a convent for the Franciscan nuns who taught there. It adjoined the church on the east side, facing Tower Road.
In 1952, the original building was torn down and replaced with a new school located on Gage Street. In advancing his plans for the new school, pastor Monsignor Reynold Hillenbrand wrote the members of Sacred Heart, “Children are the most important charges of a parish because their lives are just unfolding for them. The school that educates them is most important because they are.” Hillenbrand envisioned a school that would serve both children and adults—a place for children to learn and live out their faith, and a center for adults’ cultural and social events.
Since Sacred Heart School’s opening with 56 students, its enrollment has fluctuated, reaching a peak of 548 students in 1961. By 1986, the school population had fallen to 114 students, its lowest number since 1943. The shrinking enrollment was due in part to the cost of tuition (which follows Chicago Archdiocesan guidelines) and the excellent reputation of local public schools.
Despite this, the school has lived on. The enduring value of Catholic education, coupled with an increase in the number of young families in the parish, has infused the school with new life.