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St. Ann church plans golden jubilee celebration

St. Ann church plans golden jubilee celebration
ELAINE M. STEPHENS St. Ann Catholic Church on U.S. 87 in La Vernia is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a parish this year, with special events Nov. 21.

St. Ann Catholic Church will mark 50 years as a parish with a jubilee Mass and celebration Saturday, Nov. 21.

The celebration will begin with Mass in the church, located at 14151 U.S. 87 W. in La Vernia, at 5 p.m. This will be followed by a dinner and dance in the La Vernia Chamber of Commerce Hall, starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $9 for adults and $4 for children, and include a pork steak dinner with all the trimmings; tickets must be purchased by Nov. 19. Dance to music by a DJ from 8-11 p.m. Admission to the dance only is free. Everyone is invited.

This is a family reunion for the parishioners of St. Ann’s, both old and new. Families who have moved from the parish are invited to return and renew friendships and make new friends.

For tickets or information, call the parish office at 830-779-3131.

In 1917, a small group of Polish and Latin American families united to construct a small wood-frame church on a 2-acre plot on the bank of the Cibolo Creek now River Street in La Vernia, Texas. This tiny congregation became a mission church of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in St. Hedwig, 7 miles away. Priests visited at irregular intervals from surrounding areas to celebrate Mass and perform baptisms.

In 1921, priests from the Order of Redemptorist Fathers from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in San Antonio were given charge of the tiny church. Sunday Mass was held once a month.

From 1933-39, St. Ann church was under the care of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Nixon. In December 1950, the spiritual administration of St. Ann reverted to Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in St. Hedwig.

In November 1963, this small wood-frame church gave way to a new 280-seat-capacity brick-type church on a new 4-acre site, located on the western outskirts of La Vernia on U.S. 87. Father Benedict Pruski, pastor of Annunciation Church in St. Hedwig, supervised the construction. The old church on River Street was razed and the property sold.

On Nov. 30, 1965, St. Ann Church was established as an independent parish; its first resident pastor was Father Benjamin Bonazza. There was no rectory; the priest lived in a rented home in downtown La Vernia. As a new parish, St. Ann became responsible for the new St. Mary’s mission church in nearby Stockdale. This mission church also encompassed the small community of Sutherland Springs and portions of the parishes of Seguin, Nixon, and Floresville.

During Father Bonazza’s tenure, a 36-foot-by-60-foot hollow-tile combination catechetical center-parish hall was completed in September 1967. In June 1968, Father Patrick Flanagan became the parish priest. Under his leadership, a mobile home was installed to serve as a rectory, and air conditioning was added to the church. In 1970, Father Joseph R. Till became the parish priest, ministering to a congregation of more than 150 families, many of whom were engaged in farming and ranching, and a substantial number commuting daily to jobs in San Antonio.

On March 5, 2000, a new sanctuary for St. Ann Church with a seating capacity of 650 was dedicated, under Father Peter McKenna’s leadership. The parish today has approximately 1,000 families, and continues to grow and thrive. Part of the growth includes the St. Sophia Chapel in the St. Ann Cemetery on F.M. 1346, dedicated this past year by Archbishop Gustavo Garc’a-Siller, and plans for a new parish catechetical center.

Pastors have included the late Father Victor Carrillo, as well as Monsignor Alois Goertz and Father Tony Vilano, current rector of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio.

The jubilee celebrations will conclude with Mass of the Holy Family on Sunday, Dec. 27, at 5:30 p.m.

All are invited to join our parish celebrations!

Information provided by the St. Ann Jubilee Committee and La Vernia Historical Association.

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