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Sacred Heart Church in Larned

celebrates 50th anniversary

Special to the Register

Editor’s Note: In the following special column, Sister Irene pays homage to Sacred Heart Church in Larned, which celebrated its 50th anniversary Sept. 19.
The first time I stepped into Sacred Heart Church in Larned some 25 years ago, I was pleased to see the large statue of the Sacred Heart. I grew up in a family devoted to the Sacred Heart.
Then my attention turned to the beautiful murals -- to my left was the story from the Old Testament; to my right the story of Jesus coming to earth  in the New Testament. Entering the body of the church, the large crucifix  and the tent shaped tabernacle caught my eye. But being interested in history, the mural  at the back of the body of the church I find most impressive. This gives the story of the worship spaces in Pawnee county, or Pawnee Valley as one might call this area.
Beginning with Father Juan de Padilla OSF, one sees him planting the cross on Pawnee Rock in 1541; two Quivera Indians assist him.
Father Phillip Colleton,  a Jesuit priest, is next shown establishing the first mission at Fort Larned in 1868.
Next in line is Father Ferdinand Wolf, a Benedictine priest, a circuit rider who carried his chapel on the back of horses. He celebrated Eucharist in homes, in the Santa Fe Station, and then eventually in the little white church shown, St. Agnes, located in Zook.
When this little church was damaged by storms, the people of Belpre adopted the little building, moved it, repaired it, and used it for many years as their parish church.
The first of the diocesan priests to serve the Larned Catholic community came in 1912, and in 1919, Sacred Heart had it first resident pastor.
The red frame church in Larned was completed in 1912. The school was opened in 1936, and the hospital in 1951.
In the background one sees a symbol of the fort, of the little white St. Agnes Church, the two-story school and Sisters’ home combined, the red frame church, Larned State Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, and the present church and rectory. Encircling the images one finds yucca plants and healthy looking sunflowers.
Fifty years ago the present church and rectory were built. This holy building we are celebrating as we thank God for the many blessings God has sent our way through the ministries of dedicated priests, sisters, and laypeople through the practice of the faith planted here so long ago.
As we mark this anniversary, we repeat the words of the song on the front of the brochure:
“Nourish us well and teach us to fashion lives that are holy and hearts that are true.”

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