St. Anne Parish (Readville)

History of St. Anne's

Who was St. Anne? 


In Christian tradition, Saint Anne was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus. Although she is not named in the canonical gospels, the earliest mention of Anne's name and that of her husband Joachim come from New Testament apocrypha, specifically the Gospel of James, which was written perhaps around 145 AD, and expands backward in time the infancy stories contained in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The manuscript presents a narrative concerning the birth and upbringing of Mary herself and is the oldest source to assert the virginity of Mary not only prior to but during (and after) the birth of Jesus.

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History of St. Anne Parish


Saint Anne's Parish was officially created on December 11, 1919. Father David Regan was transferred from St. Patrick's Church in Roxbury and designated as the first Pastor. During the first few months of 1920, Father Regan celebrated Mass for his parishioners in the Chapel of Most Precious Blood Church. However, before the year was over, Father Regan offered Sunday Mass on the second floor of St. Raphael’s District School on Readville Street, and daily Mass in a newly acquired residence which was the Church's Rectory until it was torn down in 1993. Ground was broken for the new Church on August 10, 1920, but construction was delayed five months due to a strike. The original St. Anne's Church was dedicated on 23 October 1921 by William Cardinal O'Connell.

The century-old Victorian styled Rectory of St. Anne's was purchased by Father Regan from the McAvoy family in 1920. Miss Nellie McAvoy sold her residence and the land on which St. Anne's Church is built to Father Regan for $4,000. When she died, she left some of her money to the fledgling parish of St. Anne's.

St. Anne's School 

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth taught locally from the days when Father Barry opened the district school of Most Precious Blood Parish, commuting (often on foot) from the convent in Hyde Park. When that school became St. Anne's, the sisters continued to serve the children of the area. St. Anne's was unable to provide a suitable convent for the sisters until 1922 when Father Regan purchased a building across from St. Anne’s from Mrs. Anthony Edge. The original building was small, but suitable for the five nuns who staffed St. Anne's School. In 1931, the original building was enlarged with addition of seven rooms and the construction of a Convent Chapel. 

The Post-War Years
Father Regan died in 1947 and was succeeded by the Reverend James P. Dowling. In 1947, Father Dowling acquired the old Damon School on Readville Street from the City of Boston and renamed the building Saint Anne's School. The St. Raphael’s District School then became the Parish Hall, used for meetings, parties, and, for many years, for weekly "Whist and Forty-Nine" contests.

Father Hugh Doyle succeeded Father Dowling upon his unexpected death in 1948. He landscaped the parish grounds and gave the parish the beautiful statue of the Blessed Mother that now stands on the lawn between the old Rectory and the Church. He purchased the parcel of land contiguous to the Rectory - known as "The Pit" to generations of children who played there - which now serves as the parking lot. Father John J. Hart came to Readville from Essex in September, 1956. The need for a new school building was evident. The Damon School had served the parish well, but a new educational facility was obviously needed if the children of the parish were to continue to aspire to excellence in education. His Eminence, Richard Cardinal Cushing gave his permission to begin construction of the new St. Anne's School (currently the offices of the Blue Hills Catholic Collaborative). Ground was quickly broken and in September of 1964, His Eminence and Father John Hart dedicated the school, opening a new era in the Catholic education of the young of the parish.

Unfortunately, despite the pressing need, due to a drop in vocations, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth had to withdraw from St. Anne's School after 90 years of dedicated service. The last Sister of Charity of Nazareth left in August, 1980. Dedicated lay teachers had already served at the school for many years, but now took over all teaching positions. Fortunately, Father Driscoll was able to obtain the assistance of the Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, NJ, who began their service to the parish in October, 1980.

In 1963, St. Anne's introduced the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program, originally taught in private homes, which replaced the "Released Time" program for public school students. The adults of the parish became more active in parish affairs through the establishment of one of the first Parish Councils in the Archdiocese. The youth of St. Anne's responded to the new vigor in the parish by excelling in CYO hockey, basketball, and baseball.

Prior to the Parish's Golden Anniversary in 1970, the entire Church was refurbished with parishioners pitching in to paint and improve the building. The altar rail was removed, lighting improved, and the sanctuary remodeled. A grand celebration of the anniversary was held October 18, 1970.

As one history of the parish notes, Father Hart was unique. "A giant of a man physically, he had a heart to match. His generosity and kindness were legendary." In honor of his tremendous contributions to the entire neighborhood, the rebuilt bridge over the railroad tracks between Hyde Park Avenue and Milton Street/Neponset Valley Parkway was named the Rev. John J. Hart Bridge.

The New St. Anne's 

Father Hart was succeeded as Pastor by Father Arthur J. DriscoIl who fulfilled Father Regan's dream of "putting the top" on the Church. The architectural firm of John M. Gray surveyed the old Church and developed several options for renovating or replacing the building. The original Church had been designed as the basement of a planned more traditional edifice - and was included in the plans which were chosen for a new, somewhat scaled down building. Due to structural deterioration, extensive reconstruction had to be done to the walls of the Church so they could be used in the new Church.

Seating capacity was expanded to 550 with the new spaces designed to accommodate post Vatican II liturgical functions within a traditional axial plan. Clerestory windows were added at the gable ends of the wood-trussed cathedral ceiling. Extensive landscaping gave improved access to the parking lot and removed the original stairs to the Church which were particularly dangerous in winter. The Chapel was added to allow energy conservation during weekday services. During construction, the School Hall was used for Mass. Humberto Cardinal Medeiros dedicated the Church in a magnificent ceremony on May 30, 1982.

Father Driscoll, who over the years had often been called "The Mayor of Readville," was succeeded in September 1989 by Father William F. Joyce, who shepherded the parish until 2014. He upgraded the school with the installation of safety lights in the school yard, repaving of much of the parking lot, and replacement of the roof. He also established a Parish Thrift Shop.

Due to the need to avoid the expense of major structural renovations to the Rectory, Father Joyce purchased the house adjacent to the old Convent from the Hewes family as a new Convent and moved the Rectory into the old Convent in October, 1993. The 115-year-old Rectory was then torn down.

For many years, St. Anne's had two curates. Because of the lack of vocations and subsequent shortage of priests in the Archdiocese, the Parish was reduced to a single curate, and finally, in June, 1994, to a single priest, the Pastor. The parish continued to rely on the invaluable services of resident priests and the Columban Fathers who loyally served St. Anne's on weekends for over forty years.

As reported by the 1994 Boston Catholic Directory, the Parish grew to serve 6,400 people. The School provided outstanding education for 220 children; 200 expanded their knowledge of the faith through parish-based religious education; and 55 young adults joined in social and sports activities in CYO. The problems the Church and Parish faced as they approached the Twenty-first Century were real and serious, yet the Parish's first seventy-five years, provided a firm foundation on which to continue to build a true Christian community.

In 2009, due to decreasing enrollment and rising costs, The St. Anne School closed its doors and the facility was leased to the Parkside Christian Academy, who occupied it for five years. 

Father David O'Leary was assigned to St. Anne's as Temporary Administrator from October 1, 2013 after Fr. Joyce officially resigned as Pastor of St. Anne's.  Fr. O'Leary remained at St. Anne's until June 1, 2014 when Father Ronald Coyne was named pastor of St. Anne’s, as well as Most Precious Blood in Hyde Park and St. Pius X in Milton. Together these three parishes formed the Blue Hills Collaborative.

As the author of St. Anne's 50th Anniversary history so well said: "Readville has been blessed with St. Anne's Parish and St. Anne's has been munificently blessed by God. May it always be so."

 

St. Anne Parish, Readville

 


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Photos of St. Anne Parish

St. Anne's Sisters of Charity of Nazareth

St. Anne's graduates who became priests:

  • Albert Cardoni, SJ
  • Edward Nedder
  • Joseph Meany, MM
  • Msgr. Peter Conley
  • Robert Drinan, SJ
  • Richard Graham, SVD 

St. Anne Directory, 1989


St Anne to Celebrate
100th Anniversary

How blessed the Dedham & Readville communities were when the Archdiocese of Boston decided to open a new parish in honor of St Anne (Mary’s mother). That was 1919; how blessed are we to be celebrating our faith in this parish 100 years later! We are standing on the shoulders of giants who for generations have celebrated their faith at St Anne church and supported the parish financially. We want 2019 to be spirit filled as we celebrate the past and anticipate the future. The possibilities are endless but we need your help to guarantee that everyone can celebrate in one way or another. Let’s begin the process by inviting all of our parishioners who would like to participate to a brainstorming session to discuss all the options. On Monday, March 5, please join together in the Collaborative Center and bring your ideas and dreams with you. All are welcome.

Mark your calendars:

11:30 am Mass with Cardinal Sean O'Malley, in honor of St Anne's 100 years of service, May 5, 2019.


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