Parish History



Source: "Shrine of St. Anne, A History, 1920-2010
Author: Lois Cunniff Lindstrom

On July 4th, 1920, Bishop J. Henry Tihen dedicated the cornerstone of the structure that would become the Shrine of St. Anne. According to the Catholic Register, "More than 800 individual petitions to the saint were sent in for insertion in the cornerstone. Father Grace complied with the request of the donors." A large crowd, including four Arvada Protestant ministers and members of the Arvada Town Council, stood in a light rain to honor the ceremony.

On this date, July 4, 1920, Father Walter A Grace was proclaimed the "Rector of the Shrine of St. Anne." Arvada had become an official parish. The Catholic Register gave the cost of the completed building as $90,000. The shining new church attracted great attention from Arvada and surrounding communities. "Some Sunday afternoons as many as seventy auto loads of visitors have driven up to examine it," according the Denver Catholic register.

Sunday, June 25, 1922, every member of the church, visitors from Holy Family and other Denver Catholic churches, and many visitors from the Arvada community attended the dedication of the Shrine of St. Anne. Bishop Tihen presented a relic of St. Anne to the new church congregation. He had acquired the beautiful piece in Apt, France, near the Shrine at Lourdes, when he visited Europe in 1921. He also presented a consecrated altar stone which was ceremoniously place at the back of St. Anne's new altar.

The early years of the church survived a burdened debt, confrontations with the Ku Klux Klan, and scandal relating to prohibition of liquor. During the 1930's the small parish struggled to survive as church revenues fell during the Great Depression. A beautiful altar railing was added to the St. Anne church in 1935.The altar rail symbolized the setting apart of the most holy place-the presence of God. During these years Father Campbell had worked hard to build the parish and provide for education of the children. 1936 marked the first annual spaghetti dinner. Anna Spano was the head cook and organizer.

Father Ritter took over St. Anne's Parish on January 15, 1937. At the close of his first year he had added thirty families to the parish, and could report 120 member families. By 1940, the number of member families had risen to 166. There was one Mass each Sunday morning at 8:45. After long time parish member James J. Bonham died in 1940, his daughters arranged a memorial. The Rose window at the front of the church was transformed from the original pale yellow to the rose window, and carries the tribute "In memory of James and Lena Bonham".

During the war years St. Anne's Parish participated in war bonds drives. Close of war brought returning service men and women and a surge of new hope to the parish. In either 1946 or 1947 the Shrine was given a pipe organ. The organ was a gift from St. Joseph Redemptorist Church on west Sixth Avenue.

Father Ritter's health failed and he was replaced by Father William J. Gallagher on July 3, 1947. By this time the new rectory that Father Ritter had begun was well under way. Father Forrest H. Allen was assigned to the parish on January 8, 1948. He supervised finishing and furnishing the rectory, which was blessed by Archbishop Urban J. Vehr in September of 1948.

By 1950 the church had grown to 400 member families, and for the first time the church was able to start a reserve fund. By this time there were three Masses being held on Sundays. In 1956 twelve luminous windows were installed in the upper reaches of St. Anne's church. By December 1958, 850 families were St. Anne's members, a church population of 3,400. From 1953 to 1958 Father Bernard M. Kelly supervised many changes at St. Anne's, including new paint schemes in the church, and helped begin the first St. Anne's Credit Union.

Father James W. Rasby was assigned to the Shrine of St. Anne in January, 1959, and in March initiated a drive to raise funds for a school. September 5, 1961, was a day of joy and excitement as students, sixth and seventh grades only, walked through the doors of their new school. 1963 saw expansion of the church, with a total cost of $151,000. The glowing stained glass windows, a sacred element of the church today, were a gift from Mary Mapley in honor of her husband. With the close of 1963, the parish reached a membership of 8,860 with 2,215 parish families.

A farewell reception was held for Father Rasby in August, 1967, as he was assigned to the new St. Joan of Arc. One week later, the parish welcomed Father Edward Thomas Madden. During the 1960's, Vatican II brought forth a revival in Catholic faith. By 1966 parishes of the United States were receiving information detailing a multitude of changes. In October 1968, Father Madden announced the formation of a "new men's club". In 1971, Father Madden left a "vibrantly alive" parish whose devotion required thirteen masses each week, plus masses on holy days.

The Claretian era began at the Shrine of St. Anne in 1971 and lasted until 1980. Father Bernard O'Connor was named pastor of St. Anne's, with Fathers John Martens and Robert Villanueva named associate pastors, but they always insisted they were "co-pastors". In 1975 parish membership fell from 2,100 members to 1,726 with the opening of Spirit of Christ Church. During the 1970's the St. Anne school fell on some financial hard times. In December of 1973 a $12,000 organ was donated to the church by Mr. William Killian. C.O.M.B. (Committee on Ministry to the Bereaved) was formed in 1976, and A.R.M.S. (Arvada Resource for Ministry and Service) began in 1977. On Saturday, June 28, 1980, the parish said goodbye to the Claretians.

Father R. Walker Nickless moved into the Arvada rectory in June, 1980. He had great interest in the school, and taught religion classes every Friday. The Shrine of St. Anne began to adjust to one pastor and his assistants. In 1985, Father Nickless appointed a committee to study the purchase of a new organ, which was later installed at a cost of $15, 995. Through Father Nickless' encouragement, a long range planning committee for the expansion of St. Anne's school was realized. In May 1988, Father Nickless announced that Father John McCormick had been assigned as pastor for the Shrine of St. Anne.

The first challenge faced by Father McCormick was completion of the school addition so it could open on time in September, but first had to face challenges from severe hail storms and heavy rain that damaged the church. Father McCormick also oversaw many renovations, including the parish center. In November of 1994, he reported to the parish that "Never in our seventy-five year history has this parish shown more evidence of vitality than now".

Father John McCormick was Pastor from 1988 through the millennium to 2001. The school addition was completed in 1988. The practice of reciting the rosary before daily Mass was begun in 1991. The Stewardship program was revitalized and much needed parish renovations were planned. A new sound system was purchased. A confessional was removed to make way for the new Baptistry in time for Easter, 1997. The side altars were moved to form the main altar. Parish data was computerized. When the associate pastor was transferred in 1995, St. Anne's became a one-priest parish. With the theme of “Creating Our Future Together”, building plans for a Parish Center addition to the church were begun in 2000.

Father David Croak was assigned to the parish in 2001. The plans for a new addition to the Church and a new rectory were brought to completion during Fr. Croak's first year as pastor. The McCormick Center has turned out to be a huge blessing g to the parish. Having coffee and donuts after the Sunday Masses has helped to renew the community spirit. It is ideal for wedding receptions, for meals after funerals, and for many other occasions. It would be hard to imagine life at St. Anne's without the McCormick Center. Father Croak was also chaplain for the Knights of Columbus and Serra Club during his tenure. In 2009, Father Croak received Papal Honors by being named Chaplain to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, giving him the title of Monsignor.

With the retirement of Monsignor Croak, Fr. Piotr Mozdyniewicz was assigned as Administrator/Pastor in 2010. “Father Peter”, joined the Shrine of St. Anne with lengthy history in his home country of Poland prior to joining the Archdiocese of Denver. With the economy struggling, the challenges of a burgeoning parish and school are faced head on as we all look toward the institution of the forthcoming Roman Missal.

In June 2017, Fr. Sean McGrath returned to the the Shrine of St. Anne to replace Fr. Piotr. who was assigned to Holy Trinity, in Westminster.  Fr. Sean was once a Parochial Vicar here in the 90's when Fr. McCormick was our pastor.   He comes to us from St. Francis Cabrini.  

Shrine of St. Anne Roman Catholic Parish
7555 Grant Place Arvada, CO 80002
303-420-1280 
 contact@shrineofstanne.org

 

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