The little wooden church established in 1871 at 8th and Van Hook St. (now Carl Miller Blvd.) in Camden, a mission of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, is the first church in the State of New Jersey to be called Sacred Heart. This mission became a parish in 1885 and one year later a new church was built at Broadway and Ferry. The mortgage was $35,000; the Sunday collection was $2.50 and the first pastor was Fr. William Lynch. South Camden was poor then, but with the coming of the shipyard at the turn of the century, the area developed.
Unfortunately, the success of the shipyard was based on wars. One hundred years later, this South Camden area is very poor again. Sacred Heart's ministries, which are based on good Eucharistic liturgy at its core, are expressed in various efforts on behalf of the poor---a Catholic grammar school with 240 children, most of them Baptist, a Housing Program, Food Programs of cooked meals and sharing groceries, clothing for children at the thrift store, Clothes From The Heart, neighborhood help at the Family Resource Center in after-school care, medical help from volunteer doctors and nurses---the community organizing to empower people. The struggle of Sacred Heart today is to always affirm life after death and to proclaim that there could be life before death as well.
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