Our History - 1896 to 1950: Laying the Foundation
Saint Anne's remained a mission of Saint Mary's until 1896 when it was elevated to the status of an official parish. Father Coen was appointed its first pastor and remained until 1912. Soon after his arrival in Porterville Father Coen had a rectory built and acquired land for a Catholic cemetery. The first recorded grave in Saint Annes cemetery was that of John McCabe, 1909, who died at the age of 76. Two earlier gravestones are those of the wife of John Purcelli, 1887, and Mrs. Thomas Purcelli, who died in 1892. Both were buried elsewhere and later moved to the new Saint Anne's cemetery. Father Coen was transferred to Santa Maria on December 6, 1912. His successor, Father Gregory Ashe, was appointed pastor and remained until 1916.
Father Mathias Ternes arrived in 1916 and served for five years. He was replaced by Father Michael Stack, who had been ordained at Saint Patricks Seminary, Carlow, Ireland on June 11, 1914. He remained as pastor until 1923. Following Father Stack as pastor of Saint Annes parish was Father Edward J. Riordan, who served only one year, 1923 to 1924. Father Patrick Daly began his service as pastor on November 4, 1924. During his pastorate of over five years he purchased a new plot of land on F Street and had a new combined church/classroom structure and rectory built on the site. Several years later a new, more modest priest residence was constructed across the street from the original rectory. The original facility was turned over for use as the convent, which serves that purpose to this day. The first mass was celebrated in the new Saint Annes on Christmas Eve, 1925. The old brick church was demolished and the property sold. The church/classroom structure continues to serve the parish as Saint Annes School and Dillon Hall.
In August 1926 the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur from Texas arrived to begin instructions in the parish school. The motherhouse of the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur is in Belgium. Their American headquarters is in Fort Worth, Texas. Saint Annes school opened its doors on September 14, 1926. All children were welcome to enroll without regard to race, color or creed. The first enrollment numbered 29 students. The first faculty of the school comprised Sisters Beatrix, Agatha, St. Claire, St. Anthony and Mary. The first Mass was celebrated in their convent at 301 West Belleview on October 4, 1926. It was a proud day for the parish when the first commencement was held on June 3, 1927. The four graduates who received their eighth grade diplomas were Joseph Duggan, Jack Roberts, Alphonse Gagnon and Walter OReilly. The following year the number of graduates doubled.
The Sisters of the Love of God, whose motherhouse is in Madrid, Spain, succeeded the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur at Saint Anne's in 1978, and continue to administer the school. Saint Annes pre-school was also established next door to the school grounds.
Father Dalys good works continue to bear fruit over seventy years after his pastorate. He served Saint Annes until his transfer to another parish in 1929. On February 1st of that same year Father John Galvan arrived as pastor and served until 1933. Monsignor John J. Crowley was appointed pastor of Saint Annes in 1933 but due to ill health was unable to assume his duties. Fathers Roger L. McCann and Edward Haskins sewed as substitute parish priests until Father Patrick J. McCabe assumed the pastorate in May 1934. Father McCabe remained at this post until 1939. On December 2, 1939 Father McCabe was replaced by Father James Dillon.
Father Dillon served Saint Anne's Parish longer than any other pastor to date. He was born December 3, 1903 at Ballygarrett, Duagh, County Kerry, Ireland and ordained priest June 10, 1928 at Saint Marys Cathedral in Kilkenny. The Diocese of Monterey-Fresno was established in 1922 and Father Dillon was ordained for the young missionary Diocese. He assumed the pastorate of Saint Anne's as a priest only five years ordained. There was a large parish debt and a vast territory stretching from Strathmore on the north to the Kern County line on the south, Woodville on the east and the Inyo County line on the west. These boundaries continue to define the geographical limits of the parish today.