Sharon 
 

Sacred Heart Church 

 

continued

Gerhard Wengler, a native of Germany, who emigrated from that country to New Castle, Penn., in May, 1854, and in the following December took up his residence in Sharon, where he yet lives [1888]; Peter Froelig and John Muck, two Germans, who arrived in the borough about 1854-55, having come for the purpose of securing employment from the old Sharon Iron Company; Patrick Kane and his two sons, John and Patrick, who began working in the steel mill in 1856, having arrived but a short time previous; Terrence O'Hare, a brother of Charles, who, with his family, emigrated from Ireland to the Big Bend in 1851, and eight years later removed to Sharon, where he yet resides [1888]; John Thornton, a leading dry goods merchant of the borough, who, in November, 1848, arrived in Mercer County, having emigrated a few months before from Ireland, and began working in the Clay Furnace, in Jefferson Township, removing to the vicinity of Sharon, where he now resides [1888], in the fall of 1860; Jacob Huether, a German, who located a short distance east of Sharon about 1858, and opened a shoe shop, which he subsequently removed to the borough, and conducted it until his death in 1876; Nicholas Wiesen, a German, whose residence in Sharon dates back to the fall of 1860; Hon. Norman Hall, the present [1888] member of Congress from this district, who located near the borough in 1862; Edward M. McGillin, who arrived in Sharon from Philadelphia in 1883, and his brother William, accompanied by their mother and sister, one year later; and John Sullivan, Patrick Fettigan and wife, Bernard Brennan and Lawrence Clifford, the latter of whom, as also Mrs. Fettigan, yet resides in the town [1888].

The first Catholic settlers in Sharon attended services at Mercer, and subsequently at Hickory Corners, and the priests who had charge of the latter session held an occasional service in Sharon.  Father Gobbels came more frequent than any of his predecessors, and is therefore best remembered.  He celebrated mass at the houses of Peter Froelig, John Muck, Charles O'Hare, Bernard Brennan and other early Catholic families.  In 1859, he was succeeded by Rev. F. J. Hartmann, now pastor of the St. Rose Church in Hickory Corners [1888].  Father Hartmann had charge of the Sharon Mission until the coming of Rev. John J. O'Keeffe, the first resident pastor of Sharon.  The latter held services in the houses of members until he erected the present [1888] pastoral residence south of the church, and a room in that building was then utilized.  In 1864, the cornerstone of the Sacred Heart Church was laid with appropriate ceremonies, on a lot donated by Mr. J. M. Irvine, on the corner of State Street and Irvine Avenue, and as soon as the basement was ready for occupancy it was used for a school-room ever since the parochial schools were established.  Both the residence and church were commenced and finished under Father O'Keeffe's pastorate, though a very large debt was hanging over the property when, in 1872, Rev. Kearn O'Branigan succeeded him as pastor.  This debt has been paid off, and a fund commenced by the late Father O'Branigan toward securing a larger parochial school property in the near future.

 

The growth of the Sacred Heart congregation is a fair illustration of the parable of the mustard seed.  Forty years ago [in 1848] there was not a single Catholic family in Sharon, and when the [Civil] war broke out less than a dozen families comprised the full strength of the faith inside the borough limits.  Within the last quarter of a century Sacred Heart Church has had a remarkable growth, and embraces membership of about 200 families.  It supports a flourishing parochial school, established by Father O'Keeffe, which is under the efficient charge of the Sisters of Mary.  The usual branches taught in the public schools comprises the curriculum of the Sacred Heart school, but here is also imparted daily religious instruction in the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.  The old Sacred Heart Cemetery was located on east hill, but the growth of the borough necessitated its abandonment.  The present grave-yard lies immediately northwest of Sharon, and is a very suitable resting place for those who have "fallen asleep in the Lord."  The ground was purchased by Father O'Keeffe, but paid for by the late pastor [Father O'Branigan].  While giving to Father O'Keeffe full credit for the work he accomplished during this pastorate, it is nevertheless true that to the earnest labors of Father O'Branigan is largely due the present prosperity of Sacred Heart Parish, and his death, which occurred on August 7, 1888, was a severe loss to the congregation.

 

History of Mercer County, 1888, pages 390 - 391.

 

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