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Sacred Heart Historians Seeking Info
Sondra Hernandez

Photo Courtesy Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Pictured is the first church of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe - St. Mary's of the Woods. Sacred Heart historians are seeking more information on the original wooden structure and what happened to it.


Photo Courtesy Sacred Heart Catholic Church
The first church of Sacred Heart Catholic Church - named St. Mary's of the Woods was a small frame building located on the west side of South Main Street at the intersection of Avenue G in Conroe. A historical committee for Sacred Heart is seeking more information on what happened to the first wooden structure.


Jason Fohtman, Staff photographer / Houston Chronicle
An artist rendering of Sacred Heart Catholic Church new church is seen Wednesday, June 7, 2017, in Conroe. To the left is a replica of the original St. Mary’s of the Woods chapel. This replica chapel today resides as a part of the new church campus at North Frazier and FM 2854 in downtown Conroe.

Historians with Sacred Heart Catholic Church are hoping the public can help them solve a mystery.

The group is putting together information to help the more-than-100-year-old church have a historical marker placed on the church campus. They are currently gathering historical information about the church.

Where they are stuck is in getting more information about the original church chapel — a wooden structure that stood at South Main Street at the intersection of Avenue G in early Conroe. There are pictures of the old chapel, but they want to know what happened to the wood structure?

According to a history of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Sacred Heart Parish’s roots began in 1898. Conroe was a sawmill town in Montgomery County, when Andrew Jackson Madeley invited the Rev. Joseph I. Kline of Plantersville to visit Conroe and offer Mass. The first known Mass in Conroe was celebrated in the Andrew J. and Hattie Fitzgerald Madeley home located on at the corner of Second Street and Sherman Street near the railroad tracks.

The first church was a small frame building located on the west side of South Main Street at the intersection of Avenue G. The McDade family donated the land for the mission church, a plot about three blocks from the courthouse, and “considered to be the residential district,” said Father Wilhelm to Bishop Gallagher in his letter dated May 26, 1910.

The basic funds for the church came from the Catholic Church Extension Society and local citizens, both Catholics and non-Catholics donated generously. On Nov. 14, 1912, Father Wilhelm wrote Bishop Gallagher that “The carpentry work is completed and the building is painted inside and outside, and will be ready for paper after the lumber is seasoned. We have no furnishings whatsoever, but intend to put in a temporary altar and Communion rail soon and we have about 25 souls in our care.”

On Oct. 25, 1916 during Father George Apel’s tenure, Bishop Nicholas A. Gallagher of Galveston made his first trip to Conroe. The Bishop confirmed a class of 17, and dedicated the new church of St. Mary’s of the Woods.

Father Henry Parmentier served as pastor of New Waverly of which St. Mary’s of the Woods was a mission church. During his tenure, the completion of a larger and more substantial church occurred to serve the people of Conroe.

In the 1930s, a brick church was erected at the present site on land partly donated by the James McDade family. Both William Pfifner and George Strake, who discovered the great Conroe oil field in 1931, made substantial gifts to the church.

It is said that an oil field worker approached Strake at a Mass at Sacred Heart to let him know a big gusher had hit.

On Nov. 9, 1935, Bishop C. E. Byrne consecrated the Altar and dedicated the new church to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A third chapel was built in the 1970s and then in November 2018, a new 1,500-seat church and 200-seat chapel were dedicated on the campus.

As a part of the design for the new church, the 200-seat chapel is a replica of the original St. Mary’s of the Woods church from the early 1900s.

Anyone with more information on what happened to the first chapel of Sacred Heart Catholic Church may reach Robin Bartholet at bin@consolidated.net or call her at 936-672-3380.

Reprint Conroe Courier, August 22, 2021


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