As we come to the end of the year, this will be the last installment of Honoring Our Past reflections for 2016. Last weekend, I went to each of our missions, St. Patrick of the Forest in Cave Junction and Our Lady of the River in Rogue River, to invite them to participate in our campaign. Our Lady of the River has been with us for over 40 years as a mission from her inception. St. Patrick of the Forest, on the other hand, pre-dates St. Anne by some 40 years. The following information can be found on our webpage, stannegp.com.
In December of 1857, Archbishop Francis N. Blanchet visited the native tribes in the area and held services for them in what is now Grants Pass. The Oregon City archbishop was returning from South America by way of Jacksonville seeking funds to alleviate church debt.
The first church of St. Patrick of the Forest and its adjoining cemetery were built and then blessed by Father Francis X. Blanchet at Allen Gulch near Waldo on March 17, 1864. Archbishop Francis N. Blanchet later blessed the Saint Patrick church cross and cemetery on October 8, 1867.
In the 1880’s, Father Francis X. Blanchet, nephew of Archbishop Blanchet and pastor of St. Joseph parish, Jacksonville, purchased property in Grants Pass hoping to build a church there “by early 1886.”
Grants Pass began to grow with the arrival of the Oregon and California Railroad from Portland in December, 1883. It became part of Josephine County in 1885 and the county seat on January 1, 1886. Grants Pass was incorporated as a city in 1887.
Father Louis P. Desmarais, pastor of Jacksonville, began raising funds for a church in Grants Pass, in 1895. He blessed the new church building on October 11, 1896. The church sat 100 persons and measured 40 X 24 square feet with an additional 16 X 14 square foot sacristy. Non-Catholics raised the majority ($500) of the total $800 cost of the church. Archbishop William Gross dedicated the church, “Saint Anne,” after the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and with homage to the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec, Canada from where the first priests to Oregon came.
In September of 1899, Father Michael J. Hickey became the first resident pastor of Saint Anne. In September of 1948, Fr. Augustine Meyer began construction of a gymnasium opposite the church. The building which served as a parish recreation and social hall, accommodated 300 persons and was located on what is now 8th and N.E. ‘C’ Streets. Archbishop Edward Howard dedicated the hall on September 18, 1949. Father Dan Kelly was pastor at its dedication. In 1954, Fr. Kelly purchased the 6 acre lot where our parish campus now resides and later in 1956 had the first building erected: the rectory. Later in 1959, he began the process of constructing the church we are in today.
More about this in our next edition of “Honoring Our Past.”
Fr. William Holtzinger