Rochester Churches Cayuga County
Sacred Heart


Location: Cayuga County, Auburn
Address: 90 Melrose Rd. Map
Parish formed: Sep. 26, 1956
Present church built: 1973
Present affiliation: Parish, part of the Sacred Heart/St. Alphonsus/St. Ann/Holy Family cluster
Web site:


  • Fr. Raymond J. Wahl, Oct. 2, 1956-June 30, 1982 [upon retirement]
  • Fr. Thomas O'Keefe, June 30, 1982-Dec. 30, 1986 [upon death]
  • Fr. P. Paul Brennan, June 30, 1987-June 2000 [May have been temporary administrator from January through June 1987]
  • Fr. William F. Laird, June 2000-2002
  • Sr. Chris Treichel OSF, 2002-June 28, 2016 [Administrator, upon retirement]
  • Fr. Michael R. Brown, June 28, 2016-June 25, 2019
  • Fr. John G. Gathenya, June 25, 2019-present


The origin of Sacred Heart church in Auburn dates back to Sept. 26, 1956 when Bp. Kearney sent a letter to Fr. Raymond Wahl, an assistant at the nearby St. Alphonsus church, informing him that he was being transferred to establish a new parish on Melrose Road in Auburn. Land for the parish, which had previously been a cow farm, was purchased for $8,000. On Oct. 5, 1956, the parish was given the name of "Sacred Heart" in honor of the 100th anniversary of the universal celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The parish was officially decreed on Mar. 13, 1957. Groundbreaking on the campus began a few weeks later on Palm Sunday.

The parish school and rectory were the first edifices constructed on the property. During this early period, Masses were celebrated in a temporary chapel that would be set up and taken down weekly in the school auditorium. The school opened its doors on Sept. 16, 1957 with 215 students, and it would be staffed by three Sisters of St. Joseph and two lay teachers. Also in 1957, the Chapel of St. Ann in nearby Owasco was transferred from the care of St. Patrick in Moravia to Sacred Heart parish.

Early parish groups were soon established including the Women's Rosary Society and Men's Holy Name Society. After many fundraising efforts, construction finally began on the present-day church in October 1973. The finished church was dedicated on Oct. 20, 1974. The church cost $119,000 to build, and can seat approximately 400 people.

Sacred Heart enjoyed excellent growth throughout the years, reaching 1,100 registered families by the year 2001. However, as has been the case with many parishes, attendance began to decline as the 2000s progressed. The parish averages in the upper-400s for weekend Mass attendance today. Due to the priest shortage, Sacred Heart was under the care of a religious pastoral administrator from 2002 through 2016, and has engaged in several collaborative efforts with other Auburn parishes to ensure that sacramental responsibilities are adequately handled despite reduced Masses in the region. Sacred Heart opened the Matthew House in 2002, which continues to this day as a home for the terminally ill.

Fr. Michael Brown was assigned as Pastor of Sacred Heart / St. Ann by Bp. Matano in 2016 following the retirement of Sr. Treichel as administrator.

Exterior Photographs
Interior Photographs

Stations of the Cross

Stained Glass


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