On June 8, 1968 Archbishop Thomas Connolly announced the formation of a new parish in the South Bellevue area, to be placed under the patronage of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who have a convent and school within the parish boundaries. Property had been acquired on a sloping site of approximately 10 acres, with an existing house.
St. Madeleine Sophie parish began under the guidance of Fr. Jarlath Heneghan, the founding pastor. Neighborhoods were carved from the existing parishes of Sacred Heart and St. Louise of Bellevue, St. Anthony of Renton, and St. Joseph of Issaquah. Fr. J moved into the house, and Sunday Masses were celebrated at Tyee Junior High School, which became known affectionately by parishioners as “St. Tyee.”
In the Fall of 1968 the first general census and Foundation Fund Campaign was successfully completed. With tremendous enthusiasm, generosity and cooperation, along with God’s blessings, the campaign was a resounding success.
Design studies for the sloping site resulted in the present three-level plan, with the church sanctuary on the top level and social hall, classrooms and offices below. Architectural plans were approved by the Archdiocesan Building Committee in February of 1970, and Masses began in the new facility on April 4, 1971, Palm Sunday.
In 1977 the founding Pastor was succeeded by Fr. Gerald Mayovsky. As the parish grew we were blessed to have associates Rev. Kurt Woellner and Rev. William Harris and several priests of the Society of Jesus assisting on weekends. The lay staff also was expanded, and the parish became known for its outstanding faith formation programs for children and youth. During this era a Blessed Sacrament Chapel and Reconciliation Chapel were incorporated into the sanctuary level and the parish debt was retired.
Fr. George Rink began his pastorate in 1990. During his time at St. Madeleine Sophie there were not the priests available to assist, and Fr. George placed even greater emphasis upon developing trained volunteers and staff. A milestone event was the celebration of our 25th Anniversary as a parish.
Our fourth pastor, Fr. John Renggli, was with us only three years, but is remembered for his dedication to all who needed priestly care.
In 2000, as we celebrated the Jubilee Year, the parish welcomed Fr. Jim Picton as its fifth pastor and Fr. Emmanuel Iweh, Parochial Vicar. The growing parish population, which was nearing 1500 households was overjoyed at again having two priests. Their gifts, combined with those of our committed staff and volunteers are bringing a dynamic start to the new millennium.
Perhaps the strongest common thread running through the history of the parish is the commitment, dedication and loyalty of our people. St. Madeleine has truly become a People of God out of the spirit of Vatican II. Our many gifts and talents are readily shared, enabling our various ministries to flourish and increasingly meet the needs of the parish family and community.