In the beginning:
During the mid -1950s, Sunday masses at St. Joseph parish in Wichita were overflowing with parishioners, especially families with young children. The area to the south of the parish was flourishing with new homes and young families - many of them Catholic.
Bishop Mark K. Carroll recognized the need for another church and established St. Anne parish on April 5, 1955. He named it after the grandmother of Jesus and appointed Fr. James Wilkinson its first pastor. It was the 14th Catholic Church in Wichita.
Fr. Wilkinson lived in the basement of St. Joseph church until St. Anne was completed. During construction, Mass was offered temporarily at the VFW club in Haysville. As soon as the shell went up, with only concrete floors and the roof and walls in place, Fr. Wilkinson celebrated the first mass. That was July 8, 1956.
On Sept. 23, 1956 Bishop Carroll dedicated the church. "A Church is not just a building of brick and mortar, but a place where God pours His grace into the souls of man." he told parishioners at the dedication.
Construction of the school began in August 1959. The Sisters of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ began teaching in the school when it opened in 1960. A building addition was finished in 1962 and an Activity Center added and dedicated on May 18, 1977.
Since St. Anne parish began in 1955, it has celebrated a number of important milestones.
Through the years
St. Anne expanded significantly when it finalized a deal to buy Bethel Life Center directly north on Seneca on July 1,1986. Bethel had put the building up for sale after it built a new church on South Meridian. Bishop Eugene Gerber dedicated the building on Sept. 20,1986.
The middle school classes were moved to the new building, which became known as the Middle School. The Middle School provided space for the parish offices, rooms dedicated to the scouting organizations and places for meeting. The large basement room where dinners are held was named Setter Hall, in recognition of Rev, H Setter, the first St. Anne Parishioner to become a priest. The auditorium is used for conferences and school programs. On Feb. 16,1999 the church celebrated paying off the loan with a mortgage burning celebration and Mardi gras.
In 1997 the parish built an adoration chapel for parishioners to share an hour a week with God in the Blessed Sacrament.
The largest undertaking and change to the church building itself was the renovation project that began in June 2001 and was completed in April 2002. Except for incorporating the parish hall into an annex for extra seating in the church, only minor changes and updates had been made before this time.
Time and age had taken its toll, and complying with city codes on heating, air conditioning, fire safety and handicapped accessibility were going to force some major expenses.
The renovation opened up the church and unified the worship space. It added a designated space for the music ministry and a gathering space for parishioners to welcome and visit with one another before and after liturgies. Stain glassed windows were added in December 2004.
Since its founding, eleven priests have served St. Anne as pastors:
|Priest||Years served||Priest||Years served|
|1.||Fr. James Wilkinson||1955-1958||6.||Fr. Harold McCormick||1975-1981|
|2.||Fr. Raymond Schmidt||1958-1961||7.||Fr. Robert Kocour||1981-1983|
|3.||Msgr. Arthur Holtz||1961-1964||8.||Msgr. Denis Dougherty||1983-1991|
|4.||Fr. Peter Finnegan||1964-1969||9.||Fr. Kent Hemberger||1991-2007|
|5.||Fr. Victor Bieberle||1969-1975||10.||Fr. Thomas Leland||2009-2009|
Fr. David Marstall arrived June 14, 2010 and is the current Pastor of St. Anne.
The parish currently has a membership of more than 1,000 families and school enrollment of 215 in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. The school also operates a preschool and after-school program.
Greater diversity in the neighborhood brought an increased number of Vietnamese and Hispanic families to St. Anne Parish during the 1990s. As a response to our cultural diversity, a Spanish Mass was added in November 2004.
While St. Anne has had much to celebrate over the years, it also has had its hardships. The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks took a toll. It impacted parishioners after the city's economy took a deep downturn in their wake and aviation companies and others began laying off thousands of employees, including some at St. Anne's.
St. Anne has a wide variety of spiritual, intellectual, educational, cultural, athletic and social opportunities, and parishioners are encouraged to participate. There are numerous active community, parish, prayer and worship ministries and organizations such as Altar Society, Day Guild, Parent Teacher Organization, Catholic Youth Ministry, Knights of Columbus, Parish Council, Meals on Wheels, Grief and Tobit Ministry, Marian Mantle Rosary Group, Health and Wellness, St Vincent de Paul Society, scouting programs,and many others.
Bishop Carroll's words at St. Anne Parish dedication decades ago are as relevant today as they will be in future decades. "The Church is the House of God," he said. "It is the dwelling place of the Eucharistic child. The Altar, on which stands His tabernacle, is the table on which is offered the sublime sacrifice of the Mass, the font of all graces. No wonder our Catholic people are willing to make sacrifices in order that they might have a Church in their midst."