After the pioneer monks arrived in Indian Territory on October 12, 1875, they began to search for a suitable location for a permanent monastery and school. In spring of 1876, the monks accepted an offer of land and hospitality offered by the Citizen Band Potawatomi. This site, located about 30 miles south of the community's current location at St. Gregory's, eventually became Sacred Heart Abbey and school. It was a center of spiritual life, education and culture until 1929, when the monks transferred all activities to the new monastery and school in Shawnee. Most of the surviving structures were dismantled in the 1950s.
Today, the peaceful grounds are maintained by members of the neighboring rural parish of Sacred Heart. Two cemeteries provide the resting place of the founding monks as well as the Sisters of Mercy who operated St. Mary's Academy, a school for girls on the mission property. Buildings from the 1880's still grace the property, as well as the foundations of the monastery and school complex. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is open to visitors during daylight hours. For directions to Sacred Heart, please contact St. Gregory's Abbey at 405-878-5491.
We hope that you will enjoy these images of the spring at the site of Sacred Heart Abbey and School. They were taken on Easter Monday, 2004.
The entrance lane to the historic site rises up a hill through through Catalpa trees. In the background one can see the impenetrable hedge of "Mock Orange" bushes that lines the eastern side of the monastery site. This delicate white flower blooms in the midst of the fierce thorns of the Mock Orange hedge that was planted by the monks at Sacred Heart Monastery. The plant is not native to Oklahoma. Legend states that the plant that was used for the Crown of Thorns placed on the head of Jesus. In light of that legend, the pure white flower provides a nice meditation for Easter Monday, when the photograph was taken.