Since the Minorcan community left in the 1770’s, the Catholic community in the New Smyrna Beach area was all but non-existent. Then, in the late 1800’s, Catholic settlers began moving into the area to raise crops and began to establish the citrus industry. Ferdinand and Anna Nordman, a Catholic couple with a large family, purchased the old Murray farm north of the New Smryna community. Local Catholics were invited into their home every Sunday for Mass. A priest form St. Peter’s in Deland, 20 miles away, would ride by horseback to this out mission established under the direction of Father John O’Boyle, pastor of St. Peter’s, in 1887. One of the priests who would travel to the New Smyrna community, rather than ride horseback, would ride his bike. He would ride his bike through the country and the cow manure until 1913 when he was appointed the youngest bishop (St. Augustine) in the United States at age 36.
In 1921 Father Hurley became Archbishop of Baltimore, he took the opportunity to suggest to Bishop Barry, who at the time was Bishop of St. Augustine, that a Redemptorist foundation be established in the state of Florida.
Ferdinand Nordman was a very generous man, he donated the property and all the lumber for the new church, which held only 80 people. The foundation was soon established, and Father Joseph Downey was appointed as First Superior to take charge of the little wooden church named Sacred Heart December 12, 1926. We are blessed and thankful that we have members of the Nordman family worshipping with us to this day.
The Redemptorists have also been at the Parish of Sacred Heart and St. Gerard ever since.
The Sisters of Belmont brought education to the New Smyrna Beach area. The mission of Sacred Heart Parish was to build a school to educate the youth of the parish. Over the years, education of the community continues with their spirit. Our Redemptorist Fathers lead our parish and school with a quality religious and academic education to students and families.