In 1936, while the small town of Gilbert, Arizona, was written up as the "Alfalfa Hay Capital of the World," Father Vincent Mastres celebrated the first Mass on November 22, in the small adobe mission church, located on 20 West Bruce Avenue, which he and a group of volunteers built with a $3,000.00 donation from the Catholic Church Extension of Chicago. The building could hold seventy people, and served as a mission of St. Mary Parish in Chandler. Sunday Masses were celebrated by the administrator Father Joseph Patterson.
On October 22, 1943, the mission became St. Anne Parish with its own pastor: Father Godfrey Fontaine. Dominican Sisters from Michigan arrived in 1948 and established a school for kindergarten through 4 th Grade, which later closed in 1958. After being served by a series of faithful pastors for thirty-five years, the old adobe church was torn down to be replaced by a 220-person capacity church which cost $80,000.00, financed through the Charity and Development Appeal Fund. It was dedicated on August 1, 1971, by Bishop Edward McCarthy; the pastor was Father Vincent Nevulis.
In 1985, Father Raul Morales organized a building fund campaign to build a church at the new site on Elliot Road. The first Mass in the new church took place on February 25, 1989 and the temple was dedicated on April 30, 1989 by Bishop Thomas O'Brien. At present, this space is now known as the Parish Hall.
Three years beforehand, in 1986, 74-year-old Father Stephen Adrian came as Associate Pastor. Father Adrian would remain a faithful servant and refused to retire until his peaceful passing in 2013, when he was 101 years old. A former Episcopalian priest who had converted to Catholicism and eventually ordained a Catholic priest in 1984, Father Douglas Lorig was installed as the new pastor in June, 1989. Father Lorig soon started perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in 1993, by converting his own office space into an Adoration Chapel. With the surging population growth in Gilbert and surrounding areas, a new church was desperately needed. Under Father Lorig's leadership, our present church was built and the dedication Mass was celebrated by Bishop Thomas O'Brien on April 21, 1998.
The parish grew to over 4,500 registered families, becoming one of the largest parishes in the country! Almost all of the ministries we have at the church today started during this time and continue to flourish. In 1999 we welcomed sisters from Mexico – the Carmelite Missionaries of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (Misioneras Carmelitas de St. Teresa del Niño Jesus) who joyfully helped out in our growing Hispanic ministries. We then raised funds to construct a monastery for them in Mexico which was completed in 2002. We continue to be blessed by the presence of the Carmelite sisters, helping out not only here, but in other parishes as well.
The Diocese of Phoenix would also experience a change in December of 2003 - Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted was installed as our new Bishop. Father Lorig was succeeded by Father Gregory Schlarb in 2006. In 2012, our current pastor Father Sergio Fita, and his associate Father Juan Cano, arrived from Spain. They belong to Servi Trinitatis (Servants of the Trinity), a secular institute of the Church, which was founded in Spain. This is the first parish in the United States where this order has sent priests to serve God's people. In July of 2014, parishioners bid farewell to Father Juan Cano who left to start his new assignment in Spain. For the last two years up to the present, we've been blessed with the help of several visiting priests, among them – Father Charles Casale, Msgr. Michael Nestor, and Father Dennis Riccitelli. Currently, we're enjoying the assistance of Parochial Vicar, Father David Mbimadong from the Republic of Ghana in Africa.
As of October, 2014, we've started celebrations as we begin our 70 th year as a parish! We pray for the Lord's guidance and providence, and Our Lady's motherly care, as we continue our mission of the New Evangelization. St Anne, St. Therese, and all the angels and saints…pray for us! (Here is a link to a 1995 booklet about St. Anne Parish)
Pastors over the years…
Father Sergio Fita 2012 - present
Father Gregory Schlarb 2006
Father Douglas Lorig 1989
Father Raul Morales 1985
Father Charles O'Hern 1972
Father Vincent Nevulis 1968
Father Coleman Casey 1965
Father Bernard O'Boyle 1956
Father Cornelius Moynihan 1954
Father John Cullinan 1952
Father William Collins 1949
Father Loyola O'Dougherty 1947
Father Godfrey Fontaine 1943
Father Vincent Mastres 1936