Church History

In the early days of the Second World War, rationing of automobile tires and gasoline was introduced to help in the war effort.  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.  The altar server was a seminarian of the Diocese of Scranton and the member of the Church of the Annunciation.  His name was Eugene J. Clark.  He was later to become Pastor of the Church of St. Boniface and to be honored with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor.

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 house 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 the Bishop to offer Mass three times on Sundays and Holy Days.

Accordingly, on October 1, 1944, a 9:45 Mass was added at the Community Hall of the Penn Vale Federal Housing Project.  This schedule 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 V-J Day, August 14, 1945 - the date announcing the cessation of hostilities in the Second World War - nineteen lots at the intersection of Northway Road and Sheridan Street were acquired for the future building of the Church of St. Ann.  The Most Reverend Bishop has designated that St. Ann be the patroness of the future parish.  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, later became the site of St. Ann School and Convent.  They were donated by the Most Reverend William J. Hafey, Bishop of Scranton.

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 constructions of a church for St. Ann's Parish.

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.

The year 1950 was proclaimed a Holy Year by the Reigning Pontiff, Pius XII.  It marked the Silver Episcopal Jubilee of the Most Reverend Bishop William J. Hafey; The Silver Sacerdotal Jubilee of the Pastor, The reverend T. Otto Borr; and the Fifth Anniversary of the ordination of the then Assistant Pastor, the Reverend Albert G. Brogus.

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

The Church of St. Ann, Williamsport, Pa. was dedicated by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton on Passion Sunday, March 30, 1952.  The dedication Mass was offered in the new church by the first Pastor of the Church of St. Ann, the Reverend T. Otto Borr, under whose direction the church was erected.  The Deacon of the Mass was Msgr. Leo J. Post, Pastor of St. Boniface Church, Williamsport, Pa.  The sub-deacon of the Mass was Reverend Paul M. Baier, Chaplain of Divine Providence Hospital, Williamsport, Pa.  The Master of Ceremonies was Reverend Albert G. Brogus, Assistant Pastor of the Church of St. Ann, Williamsport, Pa.  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 new St. Ann Rectory.

In 1959, the Church of St. Ann changed its status as a mission church of Our Lady of Lourdes and became a parish in its own right.  Father T. Otto 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., then 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 to succeed Father Borr.  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.  The first faculty consisted of Sister Angeline, S.C.C., the first principal; Sister Mariette, S.C.C.; Sister Mary Mark, S.C.C.; Mrs. Jane Sipe; Miss Barbara Ault and Mrs. David Phillips.  Currently Sister Judith Blair, S.C.C., a native of Williamsport, serves as principal.  She is assisted by a school secretary, Mrs. Patricia Stover and by 12 lay teachers.  The school currently has 163 students from pre-school thru sixth grade.  There were only 12 students in the original fourth grade which later became the first graduating class.  Recently, the school was converted from electric to gas heat, air-conditioning was added, and the roof replaced and insulated.

In 1968, the interior of the church was also 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 1972, Hurricane Agnes struck our area.  Because of its proximity to Millers Run, the convent basement was totally flooded.  Because it was built on a concrete slab, the school was spared only by an inch or two.

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.  The confessionals were remodeled for use as "Cry Room" for small children attending Sunday Mass.  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 has 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, Pa was designated a mission church of the Church of St. Ann.  Mass continues to be celebrated there every Sunday evening at 6:15pm. Father Langan served as Pastor of the Church of St. Ann until January of 1997 when the current Pastor, Father Andrew Kurovsky, was appointed.

Realizing that the Fiftieth Anniversary of the dedication of the church was rapidly approaching, Father Kurovsky 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 recarpeted 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.

During the past 50 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.

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


  December 2017  
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