History of the Lynn Catholic Collaborative

Lynn Catholic Collaborative
Established 2013

The Lynn Catholic Collaborative of St. Mary's of the Sacred Heart was formed in June 2013, one of the first Phase I Collaboratives.

The Collaboratives of the Archdiocese are called to be strong, stable, intentional, and effective centers of the New Evangelization. After the Collaborative was formed and up and running, Fr. Brian appointed a team to write the Local Pastoral Plan for our Collaborative. This Plan contains the details of how our Parishes of the Collaborative will engage in the work of the New Evangelization – how we will run programs, how we will promote vocations, how we will engage in radical hospitality.  The Plan contains goals, and ways to measure the movement toward our goals. 

The original two parishes merged together in July 2020, forming the one parish of St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish. 

St. Mary's Church
Established 1862

St. Mary’s Parish is located in Lynn, Massachusetts, approximately fifteen miles north of Boston.  St. Mary’s has a rich history and a rich tradition that lives on today.

Like any big city in the 1990′s, the demographics of Lynn are changing.  Lynn, around the turn of the twentieth century, was the center of the nation’s shoe industry.  During World II and in the post-war era, the General Electric Company built the best jet engines in the world and employed thousands for over two generations.

But sadly, the shoe industry is long gone from Lynn.  General Electric has down-sized her workforce by nearly two-thirds since the early eighties.  As a result, many people have left Lynn and hence, St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s had served these people well.  She satisfied the spiritual needs of these parishioners.  She educated their children.  She provided a wide range of spiritual as well as social events:  Sunday Masses, the sacrament of Penance, the Stations of the Cross during Lent, Novenas, the May Procession, the Harvest Fair, the Boy Scouts, dances, Bingo, fund raisers.

Lynn, as well as St. Mary’s, is undergoing social as well as economic change.  New immigrants arrive continuously from Haiti, many countries in Africa, the Middle East and the rest of Asia.  There is also a large Spanish-speaking community (St. Joseph’s Parish provides Hispanic ministry for the city.)  Internally, African-Americans are migrating to Lynn.  St. Mary’s has a sizable elderly community.  The varied spiritual needs of these people are being identified and met today by St. Mary’s Parish and the other 4 parishes within the city.

St. Mary’s has a tradition of adapting to the changing needs of her parishioners.  Over this century, she has withstood and dealt with many issues: economic problems, fire, new immigrants, the elderly, loss of good jobs, and hence parishioners.  But always, St. Mary’s has met these challenges and has always dealt with them effectively.

Throughout her history, St. Mary’s has been blessed with wonderful pastors, countless numbers of dedicated priests as well as, more recently, with deacons and pastoral associates.  Her schools have been staffed with first class nuns and lay teachers.  The dedication and hard work of these people have made St. Mary’s what it is today.

Sacred Heart Church
Established 1894

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the city of Lynn expanded and its population grew in response to the success of the many manufacturers who found a  home here, bringing with them workers and their families who settled in Lynn.  In 1894, Sacred Heart was established to meet the needs of the growing population of Catholics who settled in West Lynn.

Father Dennis F. Sullivan was appointed as the first pastor on June 21, 1894.  The parishioners began worshipping in the cigar factory on Wyman Street as they waited for the completion of the basement church on Boston Street, which opened almost two years later.

In 1902, the property was acquired on Robinson Street and Sacred Heart Grammar School was built.  The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur staffed the school until 1930, at which time, the Sisters of St. Joseph taught the children.  The upper church was dedicated in 1912.  The seventh pastor of Sacred Heart, Monsignor Francis J. McDonnell, was aware of the needs of an active parish community and commissioned the construction of the Sacred Heart Parish Center, which was completed in 1969.  The center contained classrooms, a kitchen, gym, stage, and offices.  The original building for the school on Robinson Street required a great deal of renovations and the decision was made to move the school to its present location and in 1989, the Monsignor Francis McDonnell Center became the home of Sacred Heart School. 

The parish continues to grow in its commitment to the parishioners and the wider community.   We welcome the addition of many new immigrants to our parish family and reach out to those family members who feel estranged.  All are welcome in God's house!