Church History

 

 

In the early days of the World War II, to accommodate the need of the Catholics of the Faxon, Kenmar, and Penn Vale area, the Church of the Annunciation was prompted to offer Sunday Mass at the Loyalsock Firehouse on Northway Road.  The first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated on May 24, 1942, by the Rev. Eugene Moran, Assistant Pastor of the Church of the Annunciation. 

On October 1, 1942, the Faxon, Kenmar, and Penn Vale areas were designated as a Mission of the newly established parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Montoursville by the Most Reverend William J. Hafey, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton.  For two years the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered every Sunday in the Loyalsock Firehouse, alternating with the Parish church, at 8:30 and 11:00.  As the number of Catholics in the area increased, the Pastor Reverend T. Otto Borr, was granted faculties by Bishop Hafey to offer Mass three times on Sundays and Holy Days.

On October 1, 1944, a 9:45 Mass was added at the Community Hall of the Penn Vale Federal Housing Project.  This schedule at the three facilities continued for three years.  When the Rev. Carl W. Marty was appointed Assistant Pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes, two Masses were said at the church in Montoursville, one in Faxon, and one at Penn Vale.

On August 14, 1945, nineteen lots at the intersection of Northway Road and Sheridan Street were acquired for the future building of the Church of St. Ann.  Six initial lots on the north side of Sheridan Street were donated by Mrs. Ralph Benning and her sister, Mrs. Eva Soars of Northway Road, both of whom were parishioners.  The six lots on the south side of Sheridan Street, used as a baseball field for Loyalsock Little League, would later become the site of St. Ann School and Convent, and were donated by Bishop Hafey, who designated that St. Ann be the patroness of the future parish.

On December 4, 1949, services were discontinued at the Loyalsock Firehouse and both Masses for the area were offered at the Penn Vale Community Hall at 8:00 and 9:45, pending the construction of the Church of St. Ann.

On the Feast of St. Ann, July 26, 1950, ground was broken for the new church by the Very Reverend Frank P. McHugh, Pastor of the Church of the Annunciation and Dean of Tioga and Lycoming Counties.  Construction was begun immediately by George H. Roller Company, General Contractors.

On Sunday, October 7, 1951, the cornerstone was placed during ceremonies officiated by Father Borr.  The Reverend Leo J. Post, Pastor of St. Boniface Parish delivered the sermon, and Reverend McHugh was the Celebrant of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Church of St. Ann was dedicated by Bishop Hafey on Passion Sunday, March 30, 1952.  The dedication Mass was offered in the new church by Father Borr, under whose direction the church was erected.  The Deacon of the Mass was Msgr. Post.  The sub-deacon of the Mass was Reverend Paul M. Baier, Chaplain of Divine Providence Hospital.  The Master of Ceremonies was Reverend Albert G. Brogus, appointed Assistant Pastor of the Church of St. Ann.  The Preacher of the occasion was Msgr. George T. Schmidt, Vicar General of the Diocese of Scranton and Pastor of St. Mary's Church, Scranton, PA.   Msgr. Joseph A. Madden, Assistant Chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton, served as Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop for the dedication ceremony itself.

In April 1955 a home located at 1220 Northway Road, belonging to the estate of Mrs. Mary Emory, was purchased as the St. Ann Rectory.

In 1959, the Church of St. Ann changed its status as a mission church of Our Lady of Lourdes and became an official standalone parish.  Father Borr was appointed as the first Pastor and released from his duties as Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes by the Most Reverend Jerome D. Hannon, D.D., Bishop of Scranton.

On Mar 1, 1962 Father Borr died.  The following September, Msgr. Edward T. Sullivan was appointed Pastor of the Church of St. Ann by Bishop Hannon.  During the eleven years the followed, Msgr. Sullivan improved and expanded the parish facilities.

On February 3, 1968, ground was broken for St. Ann School and Convent.  This marked fulfillment of a cherished dream that Father Borr had for many years.  The School was established to provide for kindergarten and grades one through six, after which the children would move to Junior High School.  The school started with grades one through four, with the additional two grades being added in the following year.  The school was staffed by the Sisters of Christian Charity, with Sister Angeline, S.C.C., as the first principal.  The school eventually accommodated a Pre-School and Kindergarten.  In the early 2000’s, due to consolidation of the Catholic School System in the Williamsport area, St. Ann School closed.  At its closing, Sister Judith Blair, S.C.C., served as principal.  The school building is now the Parish Center for the Church of St. Ann.  The former convent building is now the Mary, Mother of Mercy Adoration Chapel.

In 1968, the interior of the church was renovated and the sanctuary refurbished to accommodate the implementation of the newly revised Liturgy.  A new altar facing the congregation was installed, but the original was retained.  The sanctuary was redecorated with wooden paneling and the altar railing was removed.  Stained glass windows were also installed in the nave and sanctuary, thus enhancing the beauty of the church.

In 1973, Bishop of Scranton, J. Carroll McCormick, D.D., transferred Msgr. Sullivan and appointed the Reverend John R. Ferguson to succeed him.  That same year, Father Ferguson was replaced by Reverend Leo T.A Burns.  In 1975, the Reverend Gerard M. Gannon became pastor.  It was during his pastorate that the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Church of St. Ann was celebrated.  Father Gannon's love for our Parish manifested itself in a way which breathed new life into the Parish and prompted even more improvements to the church edifice, as well as to the Rectory with the addition of the Parish offices.

The Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the dedication of the Church of St. Ann was celebrated on the Feast of St. Ann, July 26, 1977 with a Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend James C. Timlin, D.D., then Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton.

In 1979, the Reverend William Kearney succeeded Father Gannon as Pastor of the Church of St. Ann.  During his pastorate, Father Kearney initiated a further renovation of the Church of St. Ann.  The services of the architectural firm of Frank Pavigla and the Community Counseling Service were employed.  A new organ was installed.  The walls and stairways were insulated, plastered and repainted.  Insulation was installed in the ceiling, and new lighting and electrical systems and new carpeting were provided.  The Sanctuary was remodeled by removing the original main altar, replacing it with an arch-shaped reredos, and raising its floor to permit the Celebrant to be seated in front of the reredos and to more easily preside at the Eucharist.  A new Altar of Sacrifice, ambo and tabernacle, all crafted from walnut enhanced the beauty of the Sanctuary.  An additional entrance leading from the lower parking lot was added in the enclosed stairwell adjacent to the bell tower to permit access to the front of the church nave.  Father Kearney was transferred in 1981, but the renovation was not completed until November 1981, after Father James Langan had assumed his duties as Pastor.  During his tenure as Pastor, Father Langan had central air conditioning added to the church.

While Father Langan was pastor, the Church of the Assumption in Cascade was designated a mission church of the Church of St. Ann.  Mass is still celebrated on the grounds on Memorial Day and the Feast of the Assumption.  Father Langan served as Pastor of the Church of St. Ann/Assumption until January of 1997 when Father Andrew Kurovsky, was appointed.

Realizing that the Fiftieth Anniversary of the dedication of the church was rapidly approaching, Father Andy instituted a "Millennium Project" to further beautify and modernize the church.  The entire sanctuary and church interior were repainted, the reredos was painted a vibrant green, and the presider's chair was moved to the left of the altar to permit the erection of a dramatic, sixteen-foot-tall free-standing crucifix, bearing a larger than life figure of the Crucified Christ.

Three pews on the right of the nave were removed to permit the area to be used by the choir and music ministers.  A new electric piano was installed, and the sound system was updated.  The church was re-carpeted and the Stations of the Cross were refurbished and refinished.  Later a new bell system, provided by the parishioners and by a major donation from the First Slovak Catholic Ladies Association, was installed.  The new system allows the chimes to be played during services and to be broadcast to the surrounding area.  To accommodate the elderly and those with disabilities, a new parking lot was added on Northway Road, and ramps were added at the church entrance.

Father Andy served as pastor until May 2008 when Father Paul Fontanella was appointed pastor.  Father Paul did many great things for the Parish, including forming the Pastoral Council, implementing several adult faith formation programs, establishing a strong working relationship with the Diocese of Scranton, installing and dedicating a new altar, and renovating the sanctuary with new flooring, woodwork, and paint.

Father Paul served as pastor until January 28th, 2014 when Father Charles Cummings was appointed Parish Administrator, pro tem.

Father Cummings served as Parish Administrator, pro tem until February 26th, 2014, when Father John Victoria was appointed pastor.  Father John remains the current pastor, and has done many great things to allow our Parish to become an Amazing Parish.  We look forward to what the next few years bring!

During the past 65 years our buildings have seen many changes and improvements.  The faith of the people of God called to form this community remains constant and makes all of this possible.

 

(Excepts taken from "The Church of St. Ann 50th Anniversary 1952-2002" Book)

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