From Mission to Chapel to Church
During the Fall of 1951, a study group was formed. Father Walter J. Donovan came from Athens, Georgia to preside over this group which met in the reception room of Dr. Homer Head’s office. This was the actual beginning of St. Anna’s Mission.
On July 25, 1954, the first Catholic Mass in this vicinity was celebrated in the conference room of the Walton Electric Membership Corporation Building on North Broad Street in Monroe by Father Walter J. Donovan, pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Athens, Georgia. A folding altar and a portable table confessional were built. Each Sunday someone had to move the conference table and set up the altar. The confessional was set up in one of the offices. After Mass, this had to be folded up and moved away until the next Sunday morning.
These facilities were offered to us on a temporary basis until we could find something more permanent. In January, 1955, an unoccupied house belonging to the American Legion was offered for our use. Here again, the altar, etc. had to be set up for Mass and taken down afterward. We were able to store the articles in the building. We stayed at this location until the first Mass was offered in our chapel on December 8, 1956.
During the Summer of 1954, Mrs. John (Dot) Briscoe, Mrs. J.T. (Claude Friend) Wellborn, and Mrs. Dan (Catherine) Melton had a magazine subscription drive to help raise money to buy a site for a chapel. On October 30, 1954, the property was purchased and the deed sent to Bishop Francis E. Hyland.
On Mother’s Day of 1955, we had our first class to receive First Holy Communion. Father Walter J. Donovan celebrated this Mass in the Walton Electric Membership Corporation Building. The following children took part in the First Holy Communion class: Michael McComb, Linda Briscoe, David Gustafson, Mary Benkoski, Joe Benkoski, and Richard Benkoski.
In the Summer of 1956, construction of a white frame mission chapel was begun in east Monroe (836 East Spring St), fronting on U.S. Highway 78.
During the time we celebrated Mass at the American Legion house, we were known as All Saints Catholic Mission. When we were ready to build we were given a contribution from the Catholic Extension Society. The name St. Anna’s was specified with the gift.
The chapel was dedicated May 16, 1957, by Bishop Francis E. Hyland. It was the first rural mission to be dedicated in the newly established Atlanta diocese. A reception was held afterward at the American Legion.
A large group was confirmed in the first confirmation class by Bishop Francis Hyland on April 24, 1959.
In 1960, a residence on Baker Street was purchased for use of Sunday School classes and social groups. The first priest to occupy it was Father Leonard F. X. Mayhew in 1964. After his transfer, the house was left unoccupied except for Sunday School classes and social groups until St. Anna’s Catholic Mission became a parish in 1972. Father Anthony Curran moved into the rectory on June 1, 1972.
A meeting of the general membership of St. Anna’s parish was held in October, 1969. At the time it was decided to organize a parish council to assist the priest-in-charge. Mary Ann Binger, Patricia Green, Ann Huff, Jerry Connell, Dan Melton and Joe Warren were elected to serve as the first council. Mrs. Binger acted as chairperson. Bylaws were drawn up and approved. Committees to facilitate the work of the parish were appointed and activated. During this time, money was raised and aluminum siding was put on the church.
In 1974, the two-story Parish Hall was built, containing a large reception room upstairs and classrooms downstairs for religious education and also living quarters for the pastor.
In 1994, the house next to the rectory was vacated. St. Anna’s was given the first option to buy the property, the acquisition of which rounded out the acreage of the parish to two acres. It is now called the Annex, modified to accommodate five classrooms for Religious Education purposes and serves also as the center for youth activities. The space was much needed as parish numbers increased with many additional children and youth.
In 1995 an addition was made to the existing church property when the lot and residence adjacent to the rectory became available and the parish purchased it for religion classes and other functions. Since that time renovating has progressed at a steady pace, at the same time as usage is being made of the new facility.
Consideration of an enlargement to the existing church building prompted the existing church members to investigate future possibilities for St. Anna's physical plant. With demographics changing almost daily in the Walton County area, the congregation anticipated a decision in the near future concerning St. Anna's building plans.
In the fall of 1997 St. Anna's participated in the archdiocesan capital funds campaign, Building the Church of Tomorrow, raising $175,000 for the Archdiocese and $300,000 for the parish. These funds enabled the parish to purchase in January 1998 the adjacent car wash as additional parking and as space for future expansion of parish facilities. The capital funds are also being used to expand the church during the summer of 1998.
Over the years the following priests have served the spiritual needs of St.Anna's:
Father Walter J. Donovan, as pastor of St. Joseph's in Athens
Father R. Donald Kiernan, as a parochial vicar from Athens
Father James L. Harrison, as a parochial vicar from Athens
Father Leonard F. X. Mayhew, as a parochial vicar from Athens
Father John L. Mulroy, as pastor of St. Joseph's in Athens
Father James F. Scherer, student at UGA and resident at Immaculate Heart
Father William Hoffman, as a parochial vicar from Athens
Father Alan Dillman, as a parochial vicar from Athens
Father Henry Gracz, as pastor of St. Joseph's in Athens
Father James Maciejewski, as a parochial vicar from Athens
Father Gerald Gill, as a parochial vicar from Athens
Father Ray Horan, as a parochial vicar from Athens
Father Anthony T. Curran (1972-1973), first pastor
Father Michael Hogan (1973-1976), pastor
Father Edward A. Danneker (1976-1983), pastor
Father John Paul Kelley (1983-1990), pastor
Father John R. Henley (1990-1997), pastor
Father Richard A. Kieran (1997- 1999), pastor
Father Daniel Stack (1999 - 2001)
Father Daniel R. Toof (2001 - )
Our Current Church: A new church at 1401 Alcovy St., was built and occupied on July 4, 2015. The dedication of the new church was held on July 26, 2015 and officiated by Bishop Luis R. Zarama and Father Daniel Toof.