History of St. Ann & St. Joseph

The History of St. Ann-Saint Joseph, Harpers Ferry

The first church in the area was built at Paint Rock in 1855.  It was then called St. George but later changed to St. Joseph.  Father Hore offered the Mass.  After Father's departure to Ireland the duties were taken over by Father Francis, a Cistercian who served the people of Wexford and Harpers Ferry.  Father James McGowan was the first resident pastor at St. Joseph in 1867.  He built his first residence in 1867 or 1868.  In 1869, Father McGowan left and  Father MCManus became pastor and served until 1881.  During his stay the church burnt in 1875 and a new church was built on the site of the old structure.  From 1881 - 1892 Father Fogarty and Father Kiernan again were serving both St. Joseph parishioners and the pioneer families of Harpers Ferry.

Father Michael Sheehan became pastor on 1892.  He saw a great need for a church in the town of Harpers Ferry.  So under his supervision the new church was built in 1897.  It was named - St. Ann with a dedication Mass on December 1, 1905. This new church is situated in the northern part of the city on the corner of vine and third street.  It is a handsome frame structure 66 X 36 feet, with a seating capacity of nearly 500 persons.  In the rear there is a twelve foot gallery the full width of the sanctuary.  The church was heated by a furnace.  It had two sacrisities.  The eight sided windows of stained glass are of the gothic style and bear figures of the doctors of the church. 

 Father Sheehan served the two parishes the remainder of his life.  For twenty eight years he guided the destiny of the parish.  In 1920 he was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Paint Rock.  Father Maurice Nolan was pastor from 1920 - 1934.  The Catholic population was increasing during these years.  Father Nolan cared for the catholic people for fourteen years and began the parish activities. 

In 1934 Father Constello followed Father Nolan and continues the spiritual work with much zeal and undertook many repairs and improvements of the churches.  In 1946 the church basement was dug.  Improvements have been added each year.

In 1944 Father Cavanaugh celebrated his first solemn Mass in the church of his home parish on June 24, which was St. Ann. 

In 1946 Father Robert Palen was the next pastor.  During his pastorate, in the summer of 1952, a new roof of interlocking asphalt shingles were installed.

In 1952 Father William Leonard replaced Father Palen.  In 1958 Father John Peters became pastor.  On November 29,1964 the Holy sacrifice of the Mass was offered facing the people for  the first time.  In 1965 the Altar rails were removed and rebuilt into the beautiful altar facing the people.

In 1967 the church hall received  new heating,  new paneled walls, and a suspended ceiling with flush fluorescent lighting. A through renovation of St. Ann church began early in 1968  which involved the leveling of the entire floor, new floors, carpet, paneling, & pews.

On August  1973, St. Joseph parish was closed.  The church was taken down in 1976.  A funeral chapel was built in its place.  The two parishes became one, thus the name, St.  Ann  - St. Joseph.

During the parish's history nearly 50 men and women have beeen called to vocation in the priesthood and religious life.

We are in the midst of building a new tomorrow.  God has a wonderful plan for our church.  Allow Him to give you a vision of what can be, a vision of what He wants us to be.  God's love for every person in our community is as real as His love for you and me.  Because God loves us so much, let's share His love with others.

Come and join us as we share in our faith.  And let us always remember....  We are in the holy presence of God.