Sacred Heart Catholic Church History
The influx of African-Americans into the Port Arthur area from southwest Louisiana was inevitable with the boom of the oil industry that ensued. Once word got out, large numbers of people began migrating to the area, which prompted Bishop Nicholas Gallagher of Galveston Diocese to ask the Josephite priests, who had been serving Negro and Indian missions, ‘to consider establishing spiritual care to those people in 1915’. By the time Father Alexis LaPlant arrived, he discovered nearly 200 Black Catholics and began serving them. His task did involve going back and forth between Port Arthur and Beaumont until 1922, thanks to Mother Katharine Drexel, who through her generous contributions, Father LaPlant was able to build a small wooden church, which began the fascinating history which continues to the present day. Father Arthur Flanagan was the first priest to actually take residence at Sacred Heart with Father Joseph Lally being the second in December 1924,with a pastorate that lasted for 19 years. The logistics of the overall development of the parish were challenged by nature’s own traits of this coastal region, hurricanes. In fact, a most devastating one occurred in 1915.