Parish History

parish historyThe first pastor of St. Anne Church was Reverend John A. O'Connell who served from November 11, 1912 through November 10, 1919. He was known for his business acumen, as well as his ability to gather people for spiritual and social gatherings. Mindful that the new parish family was financially unable to donate the thousands of dollars needed to construct a rectory and a church, Father invited many of his more affluent friends from Holyoke and other communities to fundraising lawn parties.

He again invited them to whist parties, another successful fundraising venture he introduced. These card parties were popular and frequent, and in a relatively short time, sufficient funds were raised to begin building the rectory. By June 1913, Father moved into the new rectory and worship continued in the chapel for two more years.
Within two years after the rectory was built, ground was broken and this time, for the church which is our present place of worship. It was given a Flemish Gothic design, a brick building with beautiful old cathedral glass windows that face the setting of the sun. Entry to the church was through the side doors to the vestibule. The interior is North Carolina-finish woodwork stained golden oak. The nave of the church seated 540 and the choir loft easily accommodated 100 more parishioners.

On November 12, 1915, the last Mass was celebrated in the chapel. Two days later, the new church was christened at the 8 a.m. and again at the 11 a.m. Mass. The church was formally dedicated in the spring of the following year.

On October 4, 1927, Fr. Stanislaus Guillet purchased additional property from the estate of John F. Sullivan of Holyoke for $2,000. This parcel of land is the largest part of the parking lot, which abuts College Street.

During the late 1930's, there was a trend throughout the diocese that called for renovation of churches and St. Anne was no exception. Reflecting careful work and planning by Fr. T. Leon Ruty, pastor, the entire project centered on St. Anne, the guardian and protectress of our parish family. The renovation, a symphony of detail and flourish, was truly an artist's praise to God.

The Golden Anniversary was celebrated on Sunday, November 11, 1962 beginning with a Mass of thanksgiving and praise to God. The celebrants were Fr. Edward Authier, pastor, assisted by Fr. Clarence Forand, parochial vicar, and Fr. Gilbert OFM Conv. from St. Hyacinth Seminary in Granby. That evening approximately 400 people gathered at a dinner at the Wayside Inn in West Springfield. The invited guests of honor were two former pastors, Fr. Leon Ruty and Fr. Henry Auger. Fr. Ruty, then retired in Ware, was unable to attend.

In 1964, under the direction of Fr. Edward Authier, pastor, the old chapel was demolished and removed to make way for a new addition at the rear of the church. Ground breaking ceremonies officiated by the Most Rev. Bishop Christopher Weldon took place on April 27, 1964.

The new structure designed by Roberval J. Hubert, of South Hadley, was a combination of brick and fieldstone, which did not distract from the style of the church. It was to be oil heated, with no cellar and the ceiling at its highest point would be 14 feet.
In addition to the parish hall, an altar room, two meeting rooms, an infant room, a coat room, and two rest rooms, were included in the plans. The lower portion of the sanctuary wall was replaced by a 22-foot wide walnut screen which when opened allowed the altar of the church to be visible from the 650-capacity parish hall. The small sacristy to the right of the altar was enlarged time filling a corner created by the new addition. A door was cut through from the church to the sacristy to gain access to the parking lot. Also included in the project was the removal and replacement of the original garage by a two-car garage for the pastor and curate's use. Msgr. Walter F. Connell dedicated the addition on Thanksgiving Day 1964 with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

During Fr. Authier's tenure as pastor, plans and estimates for enlarging the rectory were submitted. The front porch was enclosed and a second floor was added. Along side of the rectory, the porch was enclosed leaving only a small portion of the original one. This gave the original six-room house four additional rooms; a foyer, a reception room, a rectory office, and a larger kitchen. The pastor and parochial vicar's personal study were added to the second floor.

A lovely stained glass window was added in the rear of the parish hall in l983 in memory of Mildred Sullivan, the mother of Fr. Francis X. Sullivan, pastor. The window is divided into three portions illustrating the three legends of St. Anne. The left depicts the angel's promise of a child for her and Joachim, the center portrays Anne instructing Mary in the precepts of Jewish Law and the last section represents the Presentation of Mary in the Temple where she was dedicated to God.



Father John A. O'Connell: November 11, 1912 - November 10, 1919
Father Victor Epinard: November 13, 1919 - October 11, 1925
Father Stanislaus Guillet: October 11, 1925 - July 15, 1928
Father T. Leon Ruty: July 15, 1928 - July 2, 1944
Father Henry J. Auger: July 9, 1944 - February 1, 1955
Father Edward G. Authier: February 1, 1955 - September 7, 1970
Father William F. Breen: September 23, 1970 - June 17, 1972
Father Raphael A. Posco: June 17, 1972 - June 21, 1973
Father Francis X. Sullivan: June 21, 1973 - July 13, 1985
Father Roland Galipeau: July 14, 1985 - October, 1995
Father J. Victor Carrier: October 28, 1995 - February 28, 2003
Father William C. Rousseau: June 1, 2003 – May 1, 2014
Father Richard Turner: May 1, 2014 – October 3, 2015
Father John Connors: October 3, 2015 – June, 2020

Father Dennis Skowera, Pastor: July 13, 2020 – present

Parish Calendar