Parish History

Pastors of Saint Anne Church

In the Beginning...

On September 19, 1924, Bishop Christopher Byrne asked Reverend John O'Reilly to find a suitable location for a new church, which would accommodate Houston's westward growth. The new parish would be named for Saint Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin.

Father O'Reilly and Selma Rankin, from Annunciation Church, started the task by speaking to people in the neighborhood about the proposed church. In very little time, they found property for sale at the intersection of two dirt roads, McDuffie Street and Westheimer Road, near the present Randall's grocery store in Shepherd Square. The site was in the middle of a beautiful grove of oak trees at 2003 Westheimer, east of Shepherd Drive. A four-room abandoned farmhouse overrun by chickens was the only structure on the site. Even after it was renovated, the first church was often referred to as the "the chicken coop."

The new Saint Anne Parish was bounded by Buffalo Bayou on the north, Waugh Drive and Mount Vernon to the east, Bissonnet and Ashby Streets to Rice Boulevard on the south. The western boundary was left open to accommodate the growing Houston population and His Excellency appointed Fr. O'Reilly as the first pastor.

In May of 1928, Bishop Byme asked the Basilian Fathers to take charge of the growing parish. The new Saint Anne Parish was the first Basilian church in Texas – there being only seven in the world at the time. Fr. John J. Glavin was the named as the first Basilian pastor. Glavin was a logical choice as he was already an assistant to Fr. O'Reilly, offering Sunday Mass in the parish and responding to sick calls since the preceding Easter.

Membership at Saint Anne had grown to 216 families by 1928, and leadership believed that the McDuffie and Westheimer location would not be suitable for a permanent church. A proposal was made to purchase 9.51 acres on the corner of Shepherd and Westheimer, the present-day site of Saint Anne Catholic Community.

The second church structure was designed by architect Maurice Sullivan. Father O'Rourke had instructed Sullivan to build a Spanish Mission-style church. Sullivan thus proceeded to go on a six-week journey to Mexico studying Spanish colonial-era churches, gathering postcards to serve as inspiration. This second church was completed in October 1929.

 

Present Day Church

Ground was broken on the third church structure on November 22, 1938, and a year later, December 10, 1939, the new church was dedicated. This church is the only Catholic church in the southern United States that visually tells the story of both world Catholicism and the Mexican Missions.

After the completion of the church, the installation of the windows and the mosaics of the Stations of the Cross was the work of Fr. Glavin, who returned as pastor in 1940 and again in 1950. He was generously assisted in this effort by many of the parishioners, by the experience and craftsmanship of Charles J. Connick Associates of Boston, and by the suggestions of the original architects.

The three-manual pipe organ, a splendid instrument with mechanical key action, 33 stops, 52 ranks, and 2,659 pipes, was first used on Christmas 1980. It was designed and built by the firm of Visser-Rowland Associates.

The extensive renovations of Lent 1991, which reflects the directives and spirit of renewal of the Second Vatican Council were effected while Fr. Vincent J. Dulock was pastor. To effect the changes, Saint Anne's enlisted the service of Ray Bailey and Associates as architects and the L.T.B. Construction Company as general contractors. These renovations, prepared for by years of prayer, study and discussions, and with the approval of Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, have maintained the style and spirit of Saint Anne. The ideals of Fr. O'Rourke and Fr. Glavin are preserved in the modifications that embody the principles of the liturgical reforms mandated by the Church through the last quarter century and obediently implemented by the bishops and pastors throughout North America.