Saint Ann Church


Parish Founded: September 25, 1947.
Church Dedication: Old church: June 27, 1948 (demolished when the new church was built). New church constructed in 2004 when Fr. Bill Schardt was installed as pastor on April 30, 2005, by Bishop Paul Loverde.
Additional Dates of Importance:  Saint Ann School: September 23, 1951. New church dedication: April 30, 2005.

School Information:

Saint Ann School
Founded: September 23, 1951

What Makes This Parish Unique?

When one visits the campus of Saint Ann, one notices the Southern-Shrive Cemetery behind the parking lot. Overlooking I-66 near Fairfax Drive and N. Harrison Street, the Shreve-Southern cemetery includes five generations of Shreve, Southern and Donaldson families. The earliest grave is dated 1832.

The parish is particularly family-oriented. Grandparents, parents and kids-all generations have a role at Saint Ann. Saint Ann is a welcoming community and has strong social outreach programs supporting Catholic Charities and other local organizations assisting the poor and the marginalized. The parish is lovingly cared for by Missionhurst priests. Because none of them were raised in the U.S., they bring a global perspective of Catholicism. The cultural diversity of the parish has grown steadily, with people from many different backgrounds feeling welcome there. One charism of the parish is community and service.

Unique objects or images to see at Saint Ann: The statue of Saint Ann before one enters the church; the icon of Saint Ann and Saint Joachim commissioned for the new church in 2004; the beautiful crucifix hanging over the altar, installed in 2019; the pelican stained glass window, the Saint Cosmas and Damian chapel (with stained glass).

Parish History:

Saint Ann Parish has a rich history that demonstrates its joyful commitment to its living faith, by God's grace. The parish was established on September 25, 1947, to be a spiritual home to Catholics who flocked to Arlington amid its booming wartime and postwar expansion. The original brick church was built on farmland acquired in 1941 by the Diocese of Richmond. The brand new parish of 400 families was a warm, vibrant and welcoming community.

In its early years, Saint Ann's priests and parishioners focused on building the parish family along with the campus. Parishioners joined men's and women's fellowship groups, opened a library, sponsored dinner dances and potluck suppers, and began a children's choir. Parents formed Boy and Girl Scout troops and CYO sports teams for parish youth. Volunteers chartered and staffed the Saint Ann Arlington Federal Credit Union to help parishioners meet their financial needs, including lending money for their purchases of modest Arlington homes. Parishioners raised funds to build an elementary school and convent. The school opened in 1951 for almost 300 students in grades K-4, plus CCD classes on Sundays. Two additional classroom buildings for grades 5-8, a playground and a rectory were added as the parish grew to 1200 families, with more than 1000 students enrolled at Saint Ann School by the mid-1950s. The parish's commitment to education continued throughout the 1950s. Saint Ann joined five other parishes to fund the diocesan construction of Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School, contributing a 14% share ($420,000, or about $3.75 million today). The parish also supported the education of special needs students at Saint Coletta's School.

By the end of the booming '50s, the parish had outgrown its worship space, so parishioners stepped up to fund the addition of a new church wing in 1959. In the turbulent 1960s, they continued to focus on education, capital improvements and growth. A director of religious education was hired to conduct the faith formation program for hundreds of parish children. The second pastor, Rev. Charles E. Ferry, arrived in 1969. He established the first elected pastoral council and joined with other pastors to petition Richmond for a new diocese including Arlington. Rev. Frank Hendrick became the third pastor in 1972 and oversaw the parish's transition to the new Diocese of Arlington, established in 1974. He implemented updates to the church and liturgy in accordance with Vatican II, including welcoming the parish's first permanent deacon.

Rev. John O'Connell became the fourth pastor in 1976. In the mid-1970s, after the Vietnam War ended, many refugees from southeast Asia arrived in Arlington. Saint Ann sponsored the Nguyen family of seven from Vietnam, housing them in Joachim Hall, a small house on the original farmland that had served briefly as the first rectory. It also sponsored a Cambodian refugee family and joined the North Arlington Parish Council, an ecumenical group supporting social programs including FISH and a day care at Resurrection Lutheran Church. Saint Ann's Meals on Wheels program, Lenten Soup Suppers, and many other ongoing ministries began in the '70s.

During the 1980s, the fifth pastor, Rev. John Cilinski, built a new rectory, chapel and parish hall. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) began; computers and new curricula, including a special needs center, were added to the school; blood drives began for the neighboring hospital; and bingo became a much-loved social event. In the 1990s, under the sixth pastor, Rev. William Schardt, the school added a preschool and remodeled classrooms. A Spanish Mass began on Sunday evenings for the young Hispanic community. The parish started annual Community Sundays to showcase its many ministries. Parish teens began participating in the annual diocesan WorkCamp.

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