Prior to the Civil War (and any church building in Monticello), Father Jeremiah Tracy celebrated the first Mass in the McDonnon home. Later services were held in Kinsella Hall. In 1868, Bishop Smith sent Father Daniel Cogan to Monticello to organize a congregation and build a church. A lot was purchased on Angle Street, (South Maple and Varvel), which at the time was a central location. A 30×60 foot wood frame church was constructed at a cost of $2,500. The name give the church was “Sacred Heart.”
Ten years later, on October 8, 1878, the fate of the parish took a dramatic turn. The Monticello Express describes the beginning of the day:
A day that dawned fairly and suspiciously enough, and ran its course with strange alternations of swelling gusts of wind, and sultry stillness, to end in darkness, and in tempest that rent the very earth, and left a swath of ruin and destruction in its path.
The account continues to describe a tornado’s rampage through Monticello and total destruction of Sacred Heart Church. The Monticello School Board then offered the congregation the use of a vacant school building on the corner of Sixth and Cedar Streets. The plans for another church began.