Parish History

In 1922 Rev. Thomas McKoan was named the first resident pastor in Shrewsbury. The town was experiencing sensational growth and the small chapel of St. Theresa was no longer adequate to meet the worship needs of the ever growing Catholic community. In addition to those residing in the center of town, many Catholic families, largely of Italian extraction, had settled in the Lake District. Recognizing the need, Fr. McKoan inaugurated a twin church project.

In the spring of 1923 work was begun on St. Mary's Church in Shrewsbury center and in November construction began on St. Anne's Church in the Lake District. The work was completed in just one year and on August 17, 1924, Bishop Thomas Mary O'Leary, Bishop of Springfield, dedicated St. Mary's Church at a morning Mass and St. Anne's at solemn Benediction in the afternoon.

On March 29, 1950, less than one month after the creation of the newly-established Diocese of Worcester, Bishop John J. Wright elevated St. Anne's parochial status and named Father Thomas J. Smith as its first pastor. Father Smith was an extraordinary priest and administrator. He and his generous self-giving parishioners immediately set to work and in six short years refurbished the church, built a rectory, provided a large parking lot and erected the parish center that bears his name. St. Anne's parish plant is a visible sign of the great value her people place on parish life. Fr. Smith served the people of St. Anne's for 20 years, establishing a strong religious education program and a very viable parish spirit.

In November 1970 Fr. William B. Welz was appointed second pastor of St. Anne. During Fr. Welz's pastorate St. Anne's Human Services was established under the leadership of Elaine LeBlanc. During this time, Fr. Bernard Gilgun also joined the family of St. Anne.

In 1983 Fr. James A. Lehane was named third pastor of St. Anne. Fr. Lehane renovated the thirty-year old parish center and continued the many education and service ministries that characterize the parish.

In 1989 Fr. Edward J. Moran was assigned fourth pastor of St. Anne. Fr. Moran recognized the need for church renovation. He wanted to utilize the gifts of Brother Blaise Drayton, a Trappist, so he immediately set up a committee and started work. On February 11, 1990 the newly renovated church with a Blessed Sacrament Chapel was rededicated by Bishop Timothy J. Harrington.

Two beautiful marble outdoor shrines sculpted in Italy honoring our patron, St. Anne, and our holy Guardian Angels were added to the church grounds in memory of the Defino and Lynch families. These shrines are places of devotion and prayer for the children and adults of our parish family. In 1994 a carillon was donated to the parish in memory of Christopher Caron and the bells of St. Anne sound out over the Lake District calling God's people to worship.

In 1996, Father Moran was approached by Dr. Harvey Clermont about the possibility of establishing a free medical program at St. Anne to respond to the health needs of the underinsured. The clinic, staffed by volunteer doctors, nurses and clerical workers, continues to serve those in need as it has done for over 20 years.

Another milestone in parish life was the adoption of Stewardship in our parish. The biblical call to stewardship asks us to respond in gratitude to God for all His goodness to us by giving back to Him in Time, Talent, and Treasure. The Stewardship response has enabled parishioners to truly "own" their parish by active involvement. There is no end to the ways people give back to God for all his goodness to them. This "ownership" and love of their church is the greatest characteristic of St. Anne's.

For many years a painting of Christ, the Good Shepherd graced the back wall of the sanctuary of St. Anne. This painting was a source of comfort and inspiration to her people. In the summer of 2000 a magnificent stained glass window of the Good Shepherd was donated to our parish in memory of the Borgatti family.

In July of 2009 Rev. John J. Foley was assigned fifth pastor of St. Anne's Parish, and has shepherded the parish devotedly since then, continuing the good works that are the heart of the parish. We are also blessed to have Fr. Paul O'Connell as our senior priest in residence.