Who We Are
St. Ann Catholic Church is located near beautiful Gull Lake in Augusta, Michigan outside of Kalamazoo. We are a faith-filled, active parish of about 650 families, many of which have been in the parish since our current church was built in 1961. We also have an abundance of young couples with growing families, as is evident at our blessing of the children each weekend . On our campus you will find St. Ann Catholic School, which serves children preschool through the 6th grade. Any time of the day, our church is always bustling with activities including bible study groups, Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent dePaul, Men’s Groups, Boy Scouts and adult and children faith formation classes. From Wednesday to Saturday you will find over 100 of our parishioners participating in Eucharistic Adoration. Our masses are joyous as we love to worship God with our hearts, minds and voices. Join us! All are welcome here!!
Where We Came From
St. Ann Catholic Church has a lengthy and rich history. It began in 1911 with a generous donation by A.W. Walsh, of a piece of Yorkville property. Walsh, a North Burdick Street grocer, had been discussing with some other Catholics, the need for a Catholic church in the Gull Lake area. Up until that time, the Catholics at Gull Lake took the train every week into Kalamazoo to attend Mass at St. Augustine Church. This was especially true during the summer months when lake dwellers would open up their summer homes.
The cornerstone for the Mission Church was laid on the Feast of St. Ann and it took a crew of six men exactly one week, from the first discussion regarding the building of a church, to erect the new 28 foot by 68 foot mission church. The church, which could hold 300 parishioners, was named St. Ann in honor of the Mother of Mary and of Mr. Walsh’s wife, Anna. At one of the first organizational meetings, it was determined that the property, the church and all of its contents were worth $2,100. It also was resolved that due to the costs of heating the church and transporting a priest to Yorkville, the church would only be open in the summer months when there were more people at the lake. The first Mass at the mission church was an exciting event. For a round trip fair of 50 cents, one could take the train (on which the Michigan United Railroad had added 2 more cars) and be dropped off directly in front of the church. Reverend Theodore Lochbihler presided over the Mass, the renowned speaker, the Very Reverend Dr. Morissey, C.S.C. of Notre Dame, gave a sermon and the St. Augustine Choir provided the music.
The St. Ann Mission church remained a busy place from 1911-1958, but in the 1950’s there was a robust period of growth. In 1952, the church began holding masses all year around. The St. Ann’s Women’s Guild was founded in that year as well. Religious education became a standard in the 50’s as the Sisters of St. Joseph traveled from St. Augustine Church to teach Religion classes to the youth in the area.
In 1958, the St. Ann Catholic Parish was formed and Father Francis Murray became the Administrator of the Parish. By that time, the Old Mission Church structure was literally bursting at the seams, so Father Murray petitioned the Bishop to build a new church. In 1960 ground was broken on the current St. Ann campus, and a church and a social hall were built. The first mass was held in September of that same year and in 1961 the rectory was constructed. The Parish continued to grow and under the direction of a new Priest, Father Steffey, an educational and social building were erected in 1967. Before he left for a post at St. Joseph’s Parish in Battle Creek in 1975, Father Steffey had the privilege of burning the building mortgage and St. Ann Catholic Parish was debt free.
St. Ann Parish has continued to expand and develop over the decades. In the late 1980’s the entrance to the church was remodeled and a stained glass depiction of Gull Lake was erected in place of the old entrance. Due to the Parish’s growing population, it became apparent in the 1990’s that there was a need for a Family Center where parishioners could gather and religious education classes could be conducted. As a response to this need, in 1998, with the financial support of the parishioners, the St. Ann Parish Family Center was constructed under the direction of Father Mark Vyverman. Between 2000 and 2001, during his tenure at St. Ann, Monsignor Mike Osborn had the church remodeled, focusing major changes on the chapel, the layout of the church and the confessionals. The most profound change Msgr. Osborn made was to move the tabernacle from the chapel, back onto the altar, making the presence of Jesus the focal point of the church.
The future of St. Ann Catholic Parish is bright. More new families have joined the Parish, and many have taken advantage of the Catholic education of the St. Ann School, which was established in 2012, under the direction of Father Christopher Derda. The Parish has many growing, vibrant ministries, and a large population of the Parish engages in faith formation activities such as Pack the House and the annual Advent and Lenten Series. Children abound, and are a living presence of God’s work in the Parish.
The parishioners of St. Ann have surely been blessed. Over the years, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and faith in God’s plan for the future of St. Ann Catholic Parish, parishioners have been shown that with the help of God, all things are possible.