St. Ann Parish History
In 1892, two families, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Iles of Monroeville and Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Kentzinger of Elmer, received permission to have the Mass celebrated at the Kentzinger home each Saturday morning. (This home was later willed to the Church and much later it became the parish center.)
The mission in Elmer was formally attached to the parish of St. Mary’s in Salem. Father Dennis J. Duggan purchased the first church site, and, in 1894, Father Leonard Reich, O.M.C. took charge of overseeing the building of the church. Ground was broken on June 15 and later the same year, the first Mass was held. The church was built at a cost of $1,800.
As the town of Elmer grew, Father Dolan of Woodbury was given charge of the mission in Elmer; but his duties prevented him from being able to say Mass on Sundays. So, in 1900, the mission in Elmer was attached to St. Joseph’s Church in Woodstown where Father John J. O’Farrell was pastor. In March of 1903, Father Richard O’Farrell, pastor of the newly established parish in Glassboro, took over administration of the missions in Elmer and Mullica Hill.
In the spring of 1920, after having been closed for six years, St. Ann’s was reopened as a mission of St. Joseph’s in Woodstown with Father Lawrence Travers as pastor.
In April of 1924, Father Francis McClosky was appointed pastor of St. Joseph’s in Woodstown in addition to serving St. Ann’s – a position he would hold for 21 years. He said Mass at St. Ann’s every Sunday at 10am and followed Mass with instructing High School students in catechism.
On June 19, 1961, St. Ann’s Mission became a parish of the Camden Diocese with Father Henry Koevoets as the first pastor. Later that same year, he installed the first air conditioners.
In June of 1962 Father Joseph McGarvey became pastor. During his tenure, the property next to the church, on the corner of Penn and Broad Streets, was purchased. It was refurbished and then used as the new rectory. In 1965, the present altar was installed, the church was paneled, and the statues of Our Lady and St. Joseph were donated. Father McGarvey hired a bus driver to transport children to Catholic schools.
Throughout its history, St. Ann’s community continued to grow and it’s parishioners were very active in parish life.
In June of 2010, St. Ann’s merged with St. Joseph’s in Woodstown and Holy Name of Jesus in Mullica Hill to form the Catholic Community of the Holy Spirit.