On Mission: Sacred Heart in Lott, strong in faith since 1905
By Msgr. Tom Frank
In early July, I celebrated Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart in Lott. My first words to the small congregation included a sincere apology. I have been a priest of this diocese for 44 years and had never before been inside this lovely church.
One striking find is the 14 stained glass windows of the Stations of the Cross. An entire city block of property contains the church, a hall used for dinners, meetings and religious education class, and a large pavilion used for the annual picnic and other community and parish events. The buildings and property are cleaned, mowed and cared for inside and out by a small group of volunteers who love the faith, the parish and its history.
Sacred Heart began in 1905 with seven families of German background, and at one time supported a Catholic school and resident pastor. As many followed jobs to larger cities, Sacred Heart became a mission of Visitation Parish in Westphalia (12 miles southeast) and then to St. Joseph Parish in Marlin (12 miles northeast). The mission currently has about 25 families with a total of 85 parishioners.
Sacred Heart also has a cemetery near the church, which is also very well-kept by volunteers. Two priests are buried there: Father Otto Niekamp (1933) and Father Henry Gottschalk (1977).
When the local Baptist church burned down, the Sacred Heart community invited the congregation to worship in the church until their new building was constructed. When the Mennonites formed a community in Lott, they used the Catholic Church and hall for services until their building was finished. These responses of concern and charity helped forge a strong ecumenical spirit in the town of Lott, which has around 750 residents.
Sacred Heart is in the Waco Deanery and is located in Falls County. The mission has Mass on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and on Thursdays at 5 p.m. The locals say that when visitors want a tour all they have to do is stop by city hall and ask to tour the lovely church.
Father Tom Frank, a priest since 1970, recently retired. He has a love for small towns and mission churches, and thus hopes to visit more in the future. Father Frank continues to serve as a long-standing member of the diocesan Mission Council, which supports the missionary efforts within and outside of the Diocese of Austin.