“The Little Mission That Could”
In 1983, Coppell homemakers Norma Gaffney and Sandy Jadlot started talking and praying about the possibility of getting together with other local Catholics to build a Catholic Community. After initial word of mouth efforts and advertising in the local paper, 24 families responded. They quickly realized that in order to move forward they would need more interested Catholic families. They again advertised in the local newspaper as well as on local cable. On 9/16/84, the 1
st organizational meeting was held in the Coppell Middle School cafeteria (now known as
West) to discuss next steps in the formation of a Catholic Community.
The families learned that in order for a priest to come and celebrate Mass, they had to petition the diocese for mission status. Determined to make their dreams a reality, the resolute group leased 3 frame buildings (formerly known as the 1st United Methodist Church property) on 10/11/84 in old downtown Coppell for 3 years from George Chaddick, owner of the property at the northwest corner of Coppell Rd. and W. Bethel Road. Bishop Thomas Tschoepe signed the lease. Chaddick did not request any money down and prayers were that enough people would come to pay the rent. The diocese timely granted the families’ mission request and the Coppell Catholic Community Mission was established as a mission of Mary Immaculate Parish in nearby Farmers Branch. First Mass was said at the new facility on 10/21/84 by Fr. Leon Deusman from Mary Immaculate with approximately 225 in attendance. $1200 was collected and the 1
st month’s rent was paid! From that point forward, collections subsidized expenses. Fr. Duesman, along with Fr. Kilian Broderick, director of the diocesan Catholic Charities, began serving the mission on a rotating basis.
In 11/85, some of the original families held a church name selection meeting one evening in the reception hall on the new property. Several names were suggested…St. Joseph, Church of the Risen Lord and Redeemer (Fr. Broderick’s choice), St. Jude and St. Ann(e). St. Jude and St. Joseph were eliminated because those names already existed in nearby towns. Everyone seemed to like St. Ann(e) because we were a mission church of Mary Immaculate and since Ann was Mary’s mother that seemed to fit. A vote was held at Mass one Sunday and St. Ann(e) it was, but…. With or without an ‘e’…that was the question! Norma Gaffney’s confirmation name is Anne with an ‘e’ and that was her choice, but ‘Ann’ was chosen as Fr. Duesman said in some book it is without an ‘e’ and so it just came to be with no ‘e’.
Mass was held in the main building which held about 125, with the building next door and the small frame house behind serving as reception hall, meeting facility, CCD classrooms and nursery. By May ’86, with 281 families registered and numbers increasing, a larger facility was needed for Mass so CISD was contacted and the cafeteria of the new Coppell Middle School (later known as
East) was leased for Sunday masses. The little church continued to be utilized for all other church related activities. As the numbers of parishioners increased, Fr. Broderick and others continued to search for available land. We had to raise some money quickly! Jay Turner chaired a fund drive to raise $400,000
+ and the 1
st land purchase of 6+ acres north of Sandy Lake Rd. across from Lee Elementary was successfully made for approximately $1 per sf on 7/5/85. As the need for more services from the clergy becoming ever so evident, the Diocese responded to the mission’s pleas for a full time priest by assigning Fr. Broderick as Administrator on 6/19/86 allowing him to continue as Director of Catholic Charities which he dearly loved. Effective 9/8/86 the diocese established St. Ann Parish. On 10/22/86 we bought the Rectory for Fr. Broderick and in 11/86 the Women’s Club held the 1
st Annual St. Ann Craft Fair raising over $5000.00!
From the very beginning, we were continuously thinking about, talking about and looking for land we on which we could build our own church. Coppell was growing fast and so were we! In early ‘87, a Building Committee, chaired by Joaquin Martinez, was established. After deciding on a style of architecture that would speak of Catholicism and the Southwest, the Committee worked for over 2 years with outside architects and contractors to design and build the 32,000 sf Spanish mission style facility which included the assembly room, classrooms and administrative offices. On 8/7/87, 2
+ more acres was purchased as well as another 1
+ acre on 2/3/88. All 3 tracts now totaled almost 9.5 acres which comprise the land the Assembly Room and 1
st offices and classrooms were built. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new multi-purpose facility led by Bishop Tschoepe 1/88. On 3/11/89, now with 850
+ registered families, we celebrated Mass in our new facility at 5:30 Mass bringing the dreams of a young parish to a reality! The new facility was formerly dedicated by Bishop Tschoepe on the Feast of Pentecost on 5/14/89.
With Fr. Broderick’s foresight and the continued dedication of committed parishioners, the search continued for land opportunities to meet the needs of the fast growing parish. In ’92 we purchased a 10
+ acre parcel of land adjacent to our existing complex at auction. Our bid of $1,235,000 was the bid, and the rest, as they say is history! The land was officially conveyed to us by Deed on 2/11/93. The shopping center had tenants paying rent which helped reduce the debt, and as leases expired, they were not renewed, so that we eventually had the shopping center completely for church use.
In late 1995, with over 3,400 registered families, a Building Committee was again formed to begin work on the final sanctuary which would seat approximately 1,400 people and provide additional meeting rooms, a courtyard and a connection with the existing building. The entire 20 acre tract was re-platted into one tract in order to construct our new church. On 3/15/2000, we purchased the house next door to the Rectory and on 4/9/2000 the groundbreaking ceremony for our new church took place. On 10/28/2001, with over 5,370 registered families, the new 59,000 square foot church with its prominent copper domes was blessed by Bishop Joseph A Galante.
What is truly amazing and a testimony to the spirit of building a Catholic Community by those original families, is the commitment through the years by all those parishioners who so generously have given of their time, energy and money to buy land, build a "temporary" facility that we still use today, buy more land with a shopping center for future use and finally build a new church and be debt free except for a small amount for shopping center renovations!
Msgr. Broderick passed away July 27, 2004. St. Ann Parish was his first and only parish assignment. In September 2004, Msgr. Leon Duesman served as the second pastor for seven dedicated years until his retirement in June 2011.
In July 2011, St Ann celebrated when Msgr. Henry Petter was appointed as the 3
rd Pastor of St. Ann Parish, assisted by Parochial Vicars Fr. Patrick Olaleye from Nigeria and Fr. Orlando Cardozo, a Dominican from Colombia. As the largest Parish in the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, it is now also the only one with 3 full-time priests! Our new clergy are welcomed by Deacons Ed Scarbrough, Pete Markwald and Kory Killgo; a faith community of almost 8,900 registered households with over 30,000 members; over 110 ministries; the Parish Staff; the Finance Council and the Pastoral Council.
In 2014, newly ordained Parochial Vicars Fr. Kevin Wilwert and Fr. Paolo Capra joined St. Ann.
As our parishioners come from a rapidly growing area, St. Ann continues the legacy begun in 1983 by those families who dared to dream and place their faith in God. We continue the journey to expand our faith formation programs, ministries and organizations, and to continually build our community of worship, service and fellowship. From our humble beginnings we will continue as a community working together towards the future of St. Ann Parish.
“We are one body transformed in Christ.”
- St. Ann’s Vision
Coming together is a beginning;
Keeping together is progress;
Working together is success.
- Henry Ford