Father Francis Xavier Leclair
Manchester was incorporated as a city in 1846. The Manchester Diocese was founded soon after in 1884. St. Augustin (1871) and Ste. Marie (1871) were the only two parishes in the diocese. Additionally, there were:
- six parish schools
- ten chapels
- one orphanage and
- 37 priests (all were required to speak both French and English)
- five convents (totaling 89 nuns from three congregations
Sisters of Mercy
the Religious of Jesus and Mary
Holy Cross Sisters.
In 1911, Sacred Heart Parish, as part of Ste. Marie, was formed to accommodate the 1200 people who had settled in the southwest area of the city and found it difficult to attend Mass because of the distance to travel and the scarcity of automobiles. Father I. H. C. Davignon, the pastor of Ste. Marie, recognized the need for a Franco-American parish in this area and solicited the bishop, the Most Reverend George A. Guertin, for the foundation of a new parish.
In April of 1911, a parcel of land situated on South Main Street was purchased for $8,000. On April 23, 1911, the bishop officially proclaimed the establishment of Sacred Heart Parish. Father Francis Xavier Leclair was named the first pastor of Sacred Heart Parish. Beginning on Sunday April 30, 1911, persons residing to the south of Conant Street were to consider themselves as members of Sacred Heart Parish. This parish was entirely distinctive and independent of Ste. Marie Parish. The first masses were held at the Veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic Hall at the Granite Square. More than 400 people attended the first two Masses.