For most anything in life, a story can be written and a history recorded of its birth and of its growth. Year after year, chapter after chapter, the pages will reveal the story of the accomplishments, the struggles, and the joys.
The story of Annunciation Parish and its history is much more than a list of dates and buildings, pastors and organizations. It is above all and most significantly, the story of the hundreds of parishioners, both lay and religious, who have devoted thousands of precious hours to doing the Lord’s work in the building of this faith community.
From the making of a private novena in the church, to the public baptisms, weddings and funerals, to the parish council and ministry meetings, to the teacher in the classroom and the Golden Ager –
“We the people are the story of “Annunciation Parish,”
and we though many, are one body in this one Lord.”
Our parish history can be divided into two periods. . .
1) The Mission Period
For four years, from 1955 to 1959, Our Lady of the Annunciation was a CHAPEL and a MISSION attended to by Queen of Heaven parish. The Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament, Father Edward O’Byrne Pastor, would come from Queen of Heaven to help guide and administer to the needs of our mission, especially on Sundays and holy days.2) The Parish Period
It was on July 8, 1959 with a congregation of about 600 families that that little mission, Monsignor Coggiola-Mower as Pastor – became a parish.
-- We had an impressive first decade –
1960 – The rectory on Vermont Street was purchased to house our various pastors.
1961 – The school and convent were built.
While the construction of the first school building was under way, classes were held in rented rooms at St. Pius X High School. Dedication of the new school took place on March 26, 1961. By August of that year, there were 560 students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade.
For the next five years, creation of additional school space was virtually a yearly undertaking; new space was created by bringing in World War II barracks. Eventually, these buildings deteriorated and for the safety of the students – they were replaced by a new Primary Education Building, which was dedicated in 1981.
With the birth of our school, it was possible to secure the services of a distinguished international teaching Order, the Canossian Sisters.
In the summer of 1961, four Canossian Sisters arrived from their mother house in Italy and became our first school administration staff.
A convent was built, the same year as the school, to provide a residence for our Sisters. It housed a beautiful and devout little chapel, a modern kitchen, study room, visitor’s parlor, five cells and a small enclosed courtyard.
The Canossian Sisters gave up administration of the school in 1968, but continued to devote their services in the areas of CCD and adult religious education.
Under the loving guidance of our school staff and the Canossian Sisters – Annunciation School, to this day, exists to provide a Christ-centered education that will well prepare its students for a fruitful spiritual life, as well as a successful secular life.
1965 – Construction of the Parish Hall began, and this facility was to be used as a gymnasium and as a cafeteria for our school and also serve as a second facility in which to hold Masses, as we were fast outgrowing the seating capacity of our Church.
Today, the hall is in almost constant use not only by the school, but by various parish organizations and ministries.
1966 – Our parish and pastor organized the first school board.
1969 – The first Annunciation Parish Council was organized by Monsignor George Reiffer, Pastor.
Our first DECADE was a busy and growing decade! We established some of our first ministries:
-- And our story goes on –
1975 – Father James Kemper became pastor, under his guidance our growth and accomplishment continued.
1978 – The Community Center was built. This space is used daily for organizational meetings, Adult Religious Education classes, youth activities, Marriage Enrichment weekends, and Sunday coffee and doughnuts.
1983 – The office complex at Phoenix and Vermont was purchased. It housed the parish offices for Registration and Records, and offices for the priests.
1984 – Marked the 25th Anniversary of Annunciation.
What started as a little mission chapel had grown into the properties of a full fledged parish, with a school, convent, and administration offices for a congregation of over 1,400 participating families.
1984 brought a desire to the parishioners to replace the NOW TOO SMALL church facility with a new and larger building, one where all parishioners could worship under the roof of one liturgical setting and no longer use the gymnasium as a make shift house of worship.
A committee was formed this same year (1984) to represent the parish at a meeting and presentation to Archbishop Robert F. Sanchez, in which we (as a parish) asked permission to begin a fund drive to raise the monies needed for construction of a new church building. Permission was granted and after months of planning, the Church Building Fund Drive began in July 1985.
A New Church Committee and a Planning and Development Committee were established to study the parish properties and surrounding neighborhood for selection of a sit for the new church.
After consideration of the overall needs of the parish, the various financial constraints, and current city codes, the north end of the parish property (between Utah and Vermont) was selected as the site for the new church building. Included in the site plan was the removal of the kindergarten and youth buildings south of the convent so that an area could be developed as a playground and also for additional parking
1987- Upon Father Kemper’s retirement, Father Ronald L. Bruckner was appointed pastor in June, 1987. Under Father Bruckner’s guidance the Planning and Development Committee developed the criteria for the design of the new church building. Research included two parish surveys, discussions with various ministries and organizations and a study of Environment and Art in Catholic Worship.
[During the next few years] a number of ministries have been resurrected including mid-school, high school and single adults youth ministry, an active summer program for mid-school, high school, and families including boating and camping trips, outreach to the separated and divorced, and the children of the divorced in Doves III and Rainbows for all God’s Children, Hospitality and Outreach Ministries, Newcomers, and the RCIA Program. The Canossian Sisters graciously accepted these positions of pastoral associates and servant leaders of these emerging ministries. A Parish Pastoral Council formed on a ministries model began in November of 1989.
The 12,000 square foot brick and stucco building was designed by the Boehing partnership, and built by Gerald A. Martin Ltd. In addition to the main sanctuary and daily Mass chapel, the building includes the vestibule, ushers’ room, sound/projection booth, men’s and ladies’ restrooms, cry room/bride’s room, sacristy, adornment-preparation rooms, and two reconciliation rooms.
When the wall between the main sanctuary and the chapel is open, the total seating capacity of the new church building [is] 780.
Compiled by Sylvia Beierman
1989 - On December 17th, 1989 the new church building was dedicated by Archbishop Robert F. Sanchez.