St. Ann Catholic Church Today
St. Ann Catholic Church is a parish of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It is a tight-knit diverse community in an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis.
Parish families: 360
First Communions: 12
Sunday Masses: 156
Hours of Confessions: 63
The History of St. Ann Parish
St. Ann Parish has a long history and a rich heritage beginning with a donation of land from the family of Madame Anne Lucas Hunt, who inherited a sizable portion of land at the death of her brother, Charles Lucas. Their father, Jean Baptiste Charles Lucas, who had been an attorney to the King of France, had emigrated to the United States and served as a congressman from Pennsylvania. In 1805, he was appointed by President Jefferson to serve as land commissioner of the Louisiana Purchase Territories. It was he who named the area Normandy, because the terrain reminded him of his home country. His son Charles had an opportunity to purchase 1150 acres in this area, which he willed to his sister Anne.
In 1854, Madame Lucas Hunt donated funds and ten acres of land to the Jesuit Fathers on the condition that they “attend to the congregation and open a school for the children.” A small temporary chapel built in 1855 was succeeded the following year by a larger frame structure, named in honor of St. Ann, the patron saint of Anne Lucas Hunt. Father Peter DeSmet, S.J., the famous missionary to the Oregon Territory was at this time at his home base in Florissant. He was appointed the first pastor of St. Ann Church. He served in this position for two years, during which time he supervised the construction of the stone church. Then he headed west again to resume his missionary work.
In 1858, Fr. Adrian Van Hulst, S.J. succeeded Fr. DeSmet as pastor. He lived at St. Louis University and traveled by horse & buggy to celebrate the Sacraments at St. Ann on every Sunday and holy day. He enlarged the church to accommodate the large congregation in 1872, and served as pastor until 1880.
By the 1940’s the stone church could no longer hold the burgeoning population, and the construction of the present church began in 1949. The auditorium of the school was converted into a temporary chapel in the interim. The original stone church was torn down and its stones became the retaining wall around the present structure.
1860 marks the oldest burial in St. Ann’s Cemetery. St. Ann’s Parish was administered by the Jesuits until 1889. The Passionist Fathers were then given the administration of the church, as they had just built the monastery at Lucas and Hunt and Natural Bridge. They administered the parish until 1948 when the St. Louis Archdiocese assigned diocesan priests to the parish. Monsignor Fred Sprenke was named the pastor.
The cornerstone of the present church was laid Nov. 26, 1950, with Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter officiating. The first Mass was offered in the new Church on October 6, 1952, and with proper ritual and ceremony, St. Ann Church was dedicated by Archbishop Ritter. Msgr. Sprenke served as pastor until his death in 1971. He was succeeded by Fr. Robert Ottoline who was followed by Fr. John Vogler, Fr. Richard Neumann, Fr. James Edwards, Fr. William Kempf, and Fr. Nicklaus Winker. Fr. Nicklaus Winker is the current Pastor.
History of St. Ann Catholic School
In 1858, St. Ann Catholic School opened. It taught all of the children in the area, regardless of their religion. The Sisters of Mercy, who had their novitiate just behind St. Ann Cemetery, were the first religious teachers at the school. In 1884 this order transferred their novitiate, sold their property and gave up their work at the school. For a short time, the Good Shepherd Sisters, whose property also adjoined St. Ann, taught in the school. In September 1896, the Sisters of Loretto started teaching in St. Ann School.
The school grew and the number of Sisters grew. In 1905 a new 5 room frame school house was completed. In the autumn of 1913, Father Stephen, C.P., requested that the teachers of St. Ann be permitted to reside in Normandy. Since 1899, they had traveled back and forth each day, by streetcar, from Florissant. The old parsonage at the right of the church was converted into the convent for the teaching nuns.
Still the school was growing and on March 22, 1926 a new brick building was completed. At that time it comprised nine school rooms, an auditorium and a parish hall. With a larger school came the need for more teaching Sisters, and the need became greater for a larger convent. December 16, 1928 was open house for the parishioners to visit the new convent. Additional classrooms were added to the school in 1931.
The Sisters of Loretto served the school for many years. In 1971 the school had a lay principal for the first time. The school has classes in kindergarten through eighth grade and offers a before school and after school program.
St. Ann also has a preschool, which operates from the former convent building. Our formal education for our youngest members can now begin as early as age 2, our emphasis on computer skills and search for new tools for learning continues as we seek ever fresh ways of proclaiming the gospel to all creation.
The community served by St. Ann School has undergone tremendous changes throughout the years. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the community was rural and fairly isolated from neighboring communities. After World War I and II the Normandy community grew into a wealthy and middle-class suburb of St. Louis. St. Ann community remains a very tightknit, close community. Some of the children in St. Ann School are the second and third generation in their family to attend the school.
St. Ann Early Childhood Center
St. Ann’s Early Childhood Center began as a vision in 1996 to incorporate an early childhood education program into the St. Ann School curriculum and its K-8 program. Many volunteer hours and dollars raised by parishioners and other donors turned the vacant convent building into a beautiful, age-appropriate facility for children 2-5. The doors opened in September, 1998 and since then our school has grown into a full-day center enrolling both part-time and full-day students with a goal of creating a loving atmosphere where children are excited about learning. SAECC is proud to have been continuously accredited by state agencies since its opening nineteen years ago.