About Our Parish

Parish History

St. Anne's Parish began in 1940 as a mission to St. Anthony's Parish and it was originally intended to be the canonical parish for African-Americans, serving those in the Florence area as well as surrounding communities.  Florence itself had a population of over 10,000 African-Americans with no catholics within the community.  Bishop Emmet M. Walsh dedicated the church on October 19, 1941. Rev. Daniel F. Foley, O.M.I. was not only St. Anne's pastor but this was his first pastoral act of obedience after his ordination.  Since there originally was no rectory or place of residence on the property, Father Foley lived in St. Anthony's rectory.  Before the church was built, Father Foley was meeting the people and celebrating Mass in their homes.

The original structure was a one story brick veneer ediface, having a wood joisted roof covered with composition shingles.  Later priests in residence lived in the attached rear quarters.  The church suffered minimal damage from hurricanes and storms over the years but the original building still stands today.  In 1962, St. Anne's received funding for reconstruction and renovation of the church and extension of the residential quarters under the leadership of Father Russell Nickerson.  A catechetical center on Dixie Street was built in 1964 followed by an additional center in 1969.  Around this time, three sisters of the religious order, St. Mary of Namurs, were invited to Florence.  They began in August 1964, living in the rectory across the street, while the current pastor, Father Russell Nickerson continued the tradition of priests living at St. Anthony's rectory.  Friends of the Sisters cleaned, painted, and collected donations of furniture for them.  The first nuns, including Sister Claire Marie, and Sister Laura, taught religion and Bible classes for the neighborhood children and eventually later started kindergarten classes at St. Anne.  St. Anthony's Parish donated a car to transport children to school.  The Sister's work was truly an outreach ministry helping the less fortunate of the community throughout the city with food and clothing, regardless of religious affiliation and the charism of the parish continues to this day.  The Sisters of St. Mary of Namurs served at St. Anne's from 1964-2000.

The Ladies Guild was organized in 1977 under the pastorship of Father Matthew Casey.  Through the years the Ladies Guild, along with the support of the pastor and parishioners, have held many fund-raising activities particularly the Harvest Tea and an annual Barbecue Sale.  The Barbeque became the longest-running fundraiser which was started by Mr. Jimmy Burch during the pastorship of Father John Lyons.  The Harvest Tea, started by Constance Cooper, featured a secret recipe tea that brought many people annually.  These events were opportunities for parishioners to socialize with members of St. Anthony's as well as non-Catholics of the city who supported our fund-raisers. 

St. Anne's was elevated from mission to full parish status on November 12, 1975 by Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler and by this time we were named St. Anne.  When St. Anthony's Church burned in 1970 and was rebuilt on the west side of Florence, some parishioners decided to stay on the east side of town and therefore joined St. Anne's.

St. Anthony Parish donated a house down the street which became the CCD building for children's religious education.  The present property includes the church, the attached former rectory which now serves as office space and meeting rooms, two adjacent parish halls, and a CCD building. The parish hall has become a place serving as an outreach center since the late 1990's.

One of the parishioners, Mr. James (Jim) Johnson, was ordained on the Feast of the Assumption on August 15, 1985, becoming the parish's first permanent deacon.  Deacon Jim grew up in the parish, actually living in the house across the street from St. Anne's until he moved away for military service.  When he returned home from the military, he entered into the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program.

With almost 200 registered families, the parish continues in its ministry to the community, providing food, clothing and other support to those in need; in its ministry to the sick; and in its evangelical mission to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others.

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