"Sacred Heart Parish was established on June 21, 1884, when Rt. Rev. Bishop Nicholas A. Gallagher made a division of his parish in Galveston. He assigned the east end of the city to the Society of Jesus to be organized into a new parish. Reverend John F. O'Connor was given this responsibility. One of the Jesuits under Rev. O'Connor, Father Slevin, arrived July 15, 1884 and Sacred Heart had its first mass the following Sunday.
However, Sacred Heart had its beginnings in 1854 when Col. Michael B. Menard donated the block bounded by 13th and 14th streets and Sealy (Ave. I) and Broadway, to Bishop Odin, then bishop of the Diocese of Galveston, with the condition that an educational institution for boys be erected.
The school, St. Mary's University, was located in the 1300 block of Sealy until 1924. From 1884 until 1892, the Jesuits held Mass for the new parish in the University chapel. On January 17, 1892, Bishop Gallagher dedicated a new structure to the Sacred Heart of our Divine Redeemer. When finished, the church was the largest in Texas and the third largest in the southern United States.
Architect Nicholas Clayton designed the French Romanesque building which was situated at 13th and Broadway, facing south. Extremely ornate, it drew glowing praise from visiting members of the ecclesiastical family. However, the life of this impressive structure was short-lived, and on September 8, 1900, a storm that became the worst natural disaster to ever strike the United States, demolished the building. The destruction was complete except for two stained glass windows, the Mass bell, the statue of the Sacred Heart and the Crucifix which remains in the present day church. The parish family immediately made plans to replace their building. The present structure was designed by a Jesuit brother named Jimenez. The cornerstone was laid on June 21, 1903 by Bishop Gallagher and the church was consecrated on January 17,1904.
The 1915 storm destroyed the dome of the church and Nicholas Clayton designed the present onion-shaped protuberance which graces the building today. The statue of the Sacred Heart which survived the 1900 storm was atop this dome until 1948 when once again a storm took its toll and the statue was struck by lightning. The parish ordered the Carrara marble replica of the Christ of the Andes which was placed on the dome in 1950. Designed in Clayton's architecture, natural light floods in from the dome and adds majesty and impressiveness to the Carrara-marble altar below. Covering the front of the altar is a large and lifelike representation of da Vinci's Last Supper in pure white marble.
Years later, two side Carrara marbled altars of Mary and Joseph were erected. Above the main altar is a beautiful Munich stained-glass window bordered by two smaller windows, both ornate and colorful. Stain-glassed windows were installed throughout the church and Msgr. Chataignon installed the Stations of the Cross which were hand-carved in Switzerland.
Throughout the history of the parish there has been a spirit of dedication in the lives of the priests and the people of Sacred Heart which is reflected in the inscription of the church on its frontal face --AMDG-- Ad Majorem Del Gloriam ...To the greater glory of God. The Parish today has over 1,300 families."