Historic Phoenix Church reopens after 36 years; what you need to know about the Church of the Sacred Heart


December 24 marked a special day for a historic downtown Phoenix church.

After 36 years of waiting, the Church of the Sacred Heart has reopened its doors, just in time for the Christmas holidays. Here’s what you need to know about the historic church.

Church built in the 1950s, closed due to Sky Harbor expansion

The original parish church was built in the early 1950s under the leadership of Father Albert Braun. At the time, the church served a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.

In the 1980s, however, the expansion of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport began and, with the exception of the church, 6,000 structures in the church area were demolished.

According to the Diocese of Phoenix website, the church and parish buildings, along with the surrounding residences in an area known as the Golden Gate Barrio, were transported through a prominent estate.

According to the church’s website, the last regular mass was celebrated in 1985.

Agreement to revive the church concluded in 2018

In 2018, we reported an agreement with the city of Phoenix revive the church.

In June of the same year, Reverend Paul Sullivan said in a statement that the decades-old church will be restored. Sullivan said at the time that the goal was to make the church a place of “unity and pride.”

As part of the restoration, the church is painted and cleaned, and religious art has been put back inside.

“Very happy and excited to see what God is going to do in this beautiful and beautiful place of worship,” said Susan French.

Restoration efforts will continue in the coming months.

Community members remember the church

As the church reopens, community members say this church was part of a special time in their lives.

“It kind of makes you happy and hurt at the same time. It was a good time to grow up around that time,” said Jim Yarbrough, who was once an altar boy when he was in 8th grade.

For others, like Jimmy Benavidez, the church evokes nostalgia.

“Made me cry, man,” said Benavidez, who grew up attending church. “My mom and dad are just looking down, smiling. I’m sure it’s a special place. I was named after Father Albert.”

“It’s important for them to come back, to recognize a part of their history that has been kind of wiped out with the expansion of the airport, but it’s still real in their hearts, and come back to a special place like this. “It means a lot,” said Reverend Sullivan.

For Christmas Day, services will take place at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

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