John Keath was baptised in Luton on 24th June 1832. A mission was begun in 1845 by Rev. S Ward who stayed for two years. It was in the 1880’s that the mission (of 180 catholics) came under the care of Bedford. On the 8th January 1884 the first resident priest, Rev. J O’Connor moved into Rothesay Road (No.21) where Mass was offered on 20th January. An iron church was built at Castle Street before Our Lady Help of Christians was built in 1910.
The Stopsley mission was founded from Castle Street in 1946. The first written record of “Stoppesle” dates from around 1200 AD. [ Stop = personal name, Ley (leah) = wood or clearing. The area was part of the Danelaw. It was a hamlet of the manor of Luton without a church. Mass was offered in St. Thomas’s church hall (The Institute).
1948 Fr. George Walker was the first resident priest. The church of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was opened on 26th November 1950 and Fr. George was appointed Parish Priest in 1953.
The Presbytery was built and the church extended in 1960. The Covent of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart opened at124 Ashcroft Road and five of the sisters taught in the Sacred Heart School. The school opened on 18th September 1962 with Sr. Columba as the Headteacher.
The Society for the African Missions, SMA, looked after the parish from 1976-2006.
The church was consecrated by Bishop Peter Doyle on 30th September 2008.
A stained glass window (by The Glass House, Chester) depicting the Last Supper was installed in the sanctuary in October 2013 and Pentecost was installed in November 2014. The windows were paid for by public subscription in memory of departed loved ones, memorialised on a brass plaque outside the Sacristy.
Fr. George Walker (1948-1968)
Fr. Patrick Oates (1968-1974
Fr. Eugene Connolly SMA (1976-2001)
Fr. John Brown SMA (2001-2006)
Fr. Chris Whitehouse (2006- )