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Church History

Church History

Milestones for St. Ann Catholic Church


The Bishop of Richmond established Saint Augustine Chapel in a former schoolhouse on Railroad Avenue in the village of Ashland. Before that, Ashland Catholics took the train to Saint Peter Catholic Church in Richmond, or a visiting priest or sometimes the bishop would celebrate mass for them in the home of Henry and Caroline Scott or Louis and Adele Delarue.


A new church was built on England Street funded by Andrew and Ann Pizzini and named after Mrs. Pizzini’s patron saint, Saint Ann. Bishop Van De Vyver donated the gothic-style altar. Still, mass was celebrated only monthly by a visiting priest.  The parish was admitted to the diocese the same year.


Under Fr. Walter J. Nott and architect L.P Hartsook, the congregation transformed the building from a simple clapboard church to Tudor-style with the addition of a bell tower, choir balcony, and sacristy. Fathers John Fahe and Francis Byrne, who followed Fr. Nott, were assigned two additional mission churches in Caroline County, Saint Mary and Saint Cyril & Methodius.  It was an overload.


Recognizing the need for assistance, the Bishop contracted with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a mission order from Massachusetts, to staff Saint Ann. Establishing a parsonage at 307 College Avenue, OMI priests served the parish for 45 years. Under Fr. Joseph Curtin, the parish bought a school bus to transport Catholic children to the Catholic school at Saint Joseph Villa in Richmond. During this time, the parish raised funds for a new parish hall by selling spaghetti suppers and by staffing the Saint Ann food tent at the State Fair every year.


The Curtin Center was constructed on Snead Street to serve as a Sunday School and parish hall.


The Oblates returned the parish to the Richmond Diocese, which moved diocesan priests into a new rectory on Thompson Street. The parish outgrew the small church on England Street. It sold the building to Randolph-Macon College and began using the Curtain Center as a temporary worship space until they could raise enough funds for a new church. For years, Thursday nights were given to bingo at Curtin Center, and Saturday and Sunday nights to worship there.


Under the leadership of Monsignor William Sullivan and numerous parish committees, they laid the cornerstone for the new Saint Ann Church building, designed by architect Robert Winthrop. Wishing to retain a tie to its past, the parish decided to place the 1892 altar in the new chapel.


When Fr. Christian J. Haydinger took over as pastor, there were 511 registered families.

Ann Russell served as Administrative Assistant for 13 years along with a fulltime secretary.

Also serving the parish were Rev. Mr. Eugene Kamper, Deacon and Martin Moran who joined the St. Ann’s staff in 2007 as Pastoral Associate/Minister of Christian Formation; Marty served at Saint Ann’s for 10 years.


Under the continuous leadership of Father Chris, St. Ann’s longest serving Pastor, our parish has grown to 871 families, and our Christian Education program has grown along with it. Rev. Mr. Eugene Kamper currently serves the parish as a Deacon. The Office is now staffed by Matt Brady as Music Minister, Wanda Clarke as Administrative Assistant and Liz Whitehead as Bookkeeper. Lise Mikkelson serves as Pastoral Associate/Minister of Christian Formation; Julie Hendricks serves as Coordinator for Children’s Christian Formation; Steve Turner serves as Coordinator for Youth Christian Formation and Maria Jaeger serves as Youth Minister. Father Chris made arrangements with Randolph-Macon College to have the large cross moved from behind the original church on England St. to the current St. Ann’s property on Snead St.

Saint Ann’s also works with a twin parish in Dubisson, Haiti, to fund their church and school. Along with other Ashland Churches, Saint Ann assists in the work of Ashland Christian Emergency Services, Prison Ministry, Rise Against Hunger and Caritas for the homeless. The former Curtain Center serves as the Saint Ann Sunday School and Parish Hall.


After 44 years of priestly duties in the Diocese of Richmond and 15 years serving as Pastor of St. Ann's, Fr. Chris announced his retirement effect August 16, 2020.  As of August 17th, Fr. James E. Gordon was named the new Pastor of St. Ann's.

List of Bishops and Pastors Serving St. Ann’s

  • Bishop Patrick Kelly, 1820-22
  • Bishop Richard Vincent Whelan, 1841-50
  • Bishop John McGill 1850-72
    • Fr. P Donelan, 1862-66
    • Fr J.P. Hagan, 1865-66
    • Fr. Thomas A Becker, 1867-69
    • Fr. Thomas Brady, 1868-70
    • Fr. Augustine Van De Vyver, 1871
    • Fr. Hugh McKeefry, 1871-73
  • Bishop James Gibbons, 1872-77
    • Fr. J.L. Tiernan, 1875-83
  • Admin. Francis Janssens, 1877
  • Bishop John J. Keane, 1878-88
    • Fr. J.I. O’Farrell, 1883-85
    • Fr. John Doherty, 1886
    • Fr. Charles E Donahoe, 1887-89
  • Admin. Augustine Van De Vyver, 1888
  • Bishop Augustine Van De Vyver, 1889-1911
    • Fr. M.F. Dinnean, 1890-92*
    • Fr. Thomas J. Wilson, 1893-95
    • Fr. McKeefey, 1896
    • Fr. Wm. B Hanley, 1896-98
    • Fr. Smith, 1897-98
    • Fr. Wm. Gaston Payne, 1899
    • Fr. James E. Collins, 1899
    • Fr. David F. Coleman, 1899-1907
    • Fr. Jos. M. Perrig, 1907-11
  • Admin. John J. Bowler, 1911
  • Bishop Denis J. O’Connell, 1912-26
    • Fr. Thos. B. Martin, 1914
    • Fr. Walter J. Nott, 1919-27*
  • Admin. Felix Kaup, 1926
  • Bishop Andrew J. Brennan, 1926-45
    • Fr. John Fahe, 1927-29
    • Fr. Francis Byrne, 1929-37
  • Bishop Peter Leo Ireton, 1945-56
    • Fr. Clement J. Flynn, OMI, 1937-40**
    • Fr. James Cleary, OMI, 1940
    • Fr. W.B. McFadden, OMI, 1941
    • Fr. Timothy B. Wholey, OMI, 1944
    • Fr. Joseph A Curtin, OMI, 1951-61
  • Bishop John Joyce Russell, 1958-73
    • Fr. Leo Wetzel, OMI, 1961
    • Fr. Joseph Pucci, OMI, 1962-68
    • Fr. Patrick Mangan, OMI, 1968-71
    • Fr. Paul McCartin, OMI, 1971-75
  • Admin. Walter Francis Sullivan, 1974
  • Bishop Walter Francis Sullivan, 1974-2003
    • Fr. William McGuire, OMI, 1975-81
    • Fr. Brian Yanofchick,  1982-85***
    • Fr. Carl De Souza,  1985
    • Fr. John Elliott, 1985-88
    • Fr. Michael Duffy, 1988-91
    • Fr. John O’Neill, 1991-92
    • Fr. Dennis Murphy, 1992-95
    • Fr. David Barry, S.J., 1995-96
    • Msgr. William Sullivan, 1996-2005
  • Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo, 2004-2017
    • Fr. Christian Haydinger, 2005-2020 retired
  • Bishop Barry C. Knestout, 2018-
    • Fr. James E. Gordon, 2020-

*1892 Parish admitted to Diocese

** 1937 Bishop Contracted with Oblates of Mary Immaculate to run Saint Ann

***1981 Saint Ann returned to Richmond Diocese

Reporting Abuse

Sexual Abuse Hotline: Bishop Knestout encourages anyone aware of sexual abuse of minors on the part of clergy or staff of our Diocese to notify civil authorities, call Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064 and reach out to the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Jennifer Sloan at 1-877-887-9603.