Sts. Francis & Anne has been designated as an independent parish and Rev. Joy Antony Retnazihamoni will be the first resident pastor, effective June 30, 2010.
Sts. Francis & Anne has been a mission of St. John the Baptist Church in Deville since 1949.
“It is fitting that in this year of the 100th Anniversary of our diocese, that the number of church parishes expands to 50,” said Bishop Herzog.
According to archive records, between 1900 and 1912, one hundred and ninety-six families immigrated from Czechoslavakia and acquired 10,000 acres of land at $12 an acre. On this tract, they established two communities Libuse and Kolin. Their spiritual needs were met by visiting priests from Alexandria and Deville.
In 1948, Bishop Charles P. Greco secured a donation of two acres of land located at the corner of B. Miller and Denny Roads in the small Czech community of Kolin. The original building was a remodeled army barrack from Camp Claiborne. The moving and remodeling of the building was made possible from financial aid from the Catholic Extension Society.
The original name was St. Francis of Assisi, but was later changed to include St. Anne, with special permission from Bishop Greco.
The first Mass was celebrated on Palm Sunday, 1949 by Rev. Placid Sasek, O.S.B., the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Deville. There were approximately 13 families who attended the mission the first year.
In the Fall of 1949, Fr. Sasek retired and was replaced by Fr. Mark Horacek, O.S.B. During the next year, the little church began to grow with the formation of the first Ladies Altar Society, a choir, and CCD classes. The Church was dedicated on July 29, 1950.
Since Kolin was a Czech community, with many of its members of Czech origin, the congregation had a close devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague. The statue of the Infant, a gift to the church, was installed in a special place of reverence and was dedicated on May 16, 1953. Msgr. Olinger and Msgr. Ducote assisted in the special service.
The next few years saw several changes and additions. A bell steeple was built with a bell installed. Wrought-iron altar rails were donated and installed. A two-room apartment was added behind the sacristy for the priest to have a place to stay overnight when ministering to the people of the mission parish.
Under the leadership of Fr. Alfred Chlebowczyk, an activity building (named Alfred Hall) and a mausoleum were built. The building committee began exploring the idea of building a larger church. After many fundraisers, Bishop John Favalora gave permission to build a larger church. Under the leadership of Father James Foster, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on August 28, 1988. The new church building was dedicated on May 1, 1989.
Sts. Francis and Anne continued to grow as an active faith community. The Knights of Columbus Council #13296, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court Sts. Francis and Anne #2613, and a Columbian Squires Circle were organized offering the congregation opportunities for putting faith into action.