It was determined in 1952 that Knoxville needed a third parish to enable the works of an expanding Catholic population. The visionaries who brought Sacred Heart Parish to Bearden were The Most Reverend William L. Adrian, D.D., Bishop of Nashville; The Very Reverend Joseph P. Follman, V.F., Dean of East Tennessee; and The Reverend Christopher P. Murray, Pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Knoxville. The general area of Northshore Drive was selected because it had access to public utilities. About six acres of the William Towle farm were purchased in 1953 for $25,000.
The late Monsignor Edward Dolan, P.A., succeeded Father Murray as pastor of Immaculate Conception in May of 1955. Shortly after his arrival in Knoxville, Father Dolan began negotiations with Baumann and Baumann Architects and Emory and Richards General Contractors to complete the entire plant, including church, school, rectory, and convent for $1 million. The parish became an independent church entity on January 1, 1956, numbering 199 families. The official title given to it was The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Father Dolan was appointed its first pastor and took up residence in one finished room of the school on July 18, 1956. He moved into the completed rectory in November 1956 and celebrated the first Mass in the new church at midnight, Christmas, 1956. He served as pastor for 16 more years.
Sacred Heart School opened on September 4, 1956, with 132 students and 5 faculty members. The 2010-2011 school enrollment is 597 students and 83 faculty members.
Father Joseph Julius was pastor from 1972 to 1981, during his tenure, additions were made to the physical plant, which included the gymnasium, new school classrooms, and a school library. By this time the parish had grown to over 1,000 families. Father Julius also facilitated the formation and beginning of St. John Neumann Parish, whose first church was erected on Jamestown Blvd. in Farragut.
Father Robert Hofstetter served as pastor from 1981 until 1987. He oversaw the expansion of the physical plant to include kindergartens, science labs, computer labs, an art department, and other modifications. His reputation as a spiritual director drew people from outside the parish to workshops in spirituality, liturgy, and other areas of growth in the Lord.
Father Xavier Mankel was named pastor in July 1987. In 1988 the church was named the Cathedral of the newly created Diocese of Knoxville. Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell was ordained its first ordinary. In June of 1992, 43 acres of land were purchased for a future parish to include part of Sacred Heart Cathedral parish. The new All Saints Parish began operation in September, 1994.
Father Al Humbrecht was named pastor in August 1997. In November 1998, Bishop O’Connell was named the 3rd Bishop of Palm Beach, FL. In January 1999, Fr. Al Humbrecht was elected Diocesan Administrator until the Holy See should appoint a Bishop for the Diocese of Knoxville. Bishop Joseph Kurtz was appointed Bishop of Knoxville on December 8, 1999. Kurtz was succeeded on March 19, 2009 by Bishop Richard Stika.
In February of 2010, the Very Rev. David Boettner was named Pastor/Rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral. In order to help him get to know the parish well, Fr. David appointed a Transition Team which hosted listening sessions throughout the parish to get the pulse of the parish and give him a “State of the Parish” report. Following the work of the Transition Team, the Parish Pastoral Council began a Strategic Planning Process that produce a five-year plan for the years 2011-2016. As the parish begins to implement this plan, it will focus on five areas based upon the expressed needs of the parish. These areas are the following: Facilities, Faith Formation, Communication, School, and Unity in Diversity. See the full SHC Strategic Plan 2011-2016 here.
On January 1, 2010, Sacred Heart Parish numbered about 1,411 families. May God grant the increase.