Sacred Heart Church

Sacred HeartSacred Heart Church

By Tim I. Purdy

6×9; 105 pages; illustrated;
ISBN 0-938373-16-1
Price $10.00

The history of Susanville’s Sacred Heart Church begins with the humble beginning in 1869 when Father Charles Lynch rode horseback from Downieville to Susanville to celebrate the first Mass there to a small contingent of Catholics at the home of Ned Mulroney.

Sacred Heart Church
Sacred Heart Church, 1910

The first segment chronicles the early struggles of the circuit priests whose far flung territory rarely allowed for more than one visit a year to the Honey Lake Valley. Yet, as the community began to grow, so did the Catholic population, prompting them to build their first Church in 1892. That church was dedicated in 1896 as the Church of the Sacred Heart.

In 1912 the Sacred Heart Parish was established comprising the territory of Lassen and Modoc Counties. Father O’Reilly would become the first parish priest, though he would first reside in Alturas. That would soon change with the arrival of the railroad and lumber mills to Susanville, creating the need for a resident pastor.


Various aspects of the parish history are explored. Examples of such is when Father McCarthy not only went on a campaign to build the Rectory in one month, followed by the next month of the construction of Our Lady of Snows Church at Westwood. There is, of course, the story of then Father Moran’s quest and fulfillment of building the current church among other goals.

The parish organizations, too, have left their imprint on the community. After all, it is the church’s St. Patrick’s Day Dinner, first held in 1917, is the old continuous annual event held in Susanville