Saint Ann Parish was first organized in 1860, the little community of West Covington, then known as Economy, had a mere 500 inhabitants.
Before 1860, a Mr. Patrick Monahan taught catechism classes because there was no church or resident priest. Economy’s Catholics had to travel long distances to attend Mass. They went to Saint Mary’s Cathedral, then on 8th Street in Covington, or took the ferry to Saint Patrick’s Church in Cincinnati.
The Reverend Thomas R. Butler, pastor of the Cathedral, offered the first Mass of record in Economy. In answer to a sick call, Father Butler brought the requisites for offering Mass with him. He said Mass in the Callahan home next door to the sick person on Short John Street.
From then until the completion of the first building of Saint Ann’s Church in 1862, Mass was said regularly in the little one-story frame cottage rented from the Burns family at the corner of Main (Parkway) and High Streets.
Bishop Carroll of the Diocese of Covington, hesitant about sanctioning a new church, had to be convinced by a committee of Catholics from Economy that a church was needed there.
On Sunday, June 3, 1860, in the presence of a large gathering of the faithful from Covington and Newport, Bishop Carroll laid the cornerstone for the new church. The men of the parish worked on the construction of the first little Saint Ann’s by lantern and moonlight after working 8 to 10 hours a day at their own jobs. The raging Civil War saw distressing poverty in the parish, and completion of the building had to be postponed.
In 1864, Bishop Carroll appointed The Reverend Adrian Egglemeers as first resident pastor. On his arrival he found few Catholics and an unfinished church. During his pastorate of 11 years, he saw the church completed as well as a rectory, Sisters’ home, and a two-story school. When he left Saint Ann’s in 1875, there was a large congregation and the parish was thriving with 150 children in the school.
Saint Ann drew parishioners from the West End of Covington as well as Ludlow, which eventually spawned Saint Patrick’s, at 5th and Philadelphia and Saint James Parish in Ludlow.
In 1888, a French Canadian priest, The Reverend Louis G. Clermont, arrived at Saint Ann’s. He established a shrine dedicated to Saint Ann with a relic from Rome said to be from a rock of Saint Ann’s tomb from Jerusalem.
This began the tradition of novenas to Saint Ann, which has continued to this day. The 9-day event begins on July 18th and on the last day, July 26TH, thousand of devotees of the Saint carry her statue and lighted candles through the streets of Covington.
During Father Clermont’s tenure, the front wall of the school began to give way, causing much worry, concern, and expense over the years. The school was torn down to make way for a new structure dedicated in September 1908, by Bishop Maes.
In 1910, the congregation under the direction of Reverend William B. Ryan observed the Golden Jubilee of Saint Ann Parish. On October 1, 1917, Reverend Thomas B. Ennis succeeded Father Ryan, beginning a pastorate, which continued for twenty-three years.
Father Thomas B. Ennis erected a new church building; its cornerstone laid on August 30, 1931, was the original cornerstone from the 1860 church. The structure was dedicated June 19, 1932.
In November, 1940, Reverend Joseph Deimling was appointed to Saint Ann. The present school is the third built and completed June 1, 1957, and dedicated the following October. In June 1981, a decision was reached by the parishioners and the Diocese to close Saint Ann School due to declining enrollment. The children of Saint Ann continue to attend Prince of Peace School. The Saint Ann building presently houses a very fine day care facility.
Father Lewis Jasper was named the new pastor on May 29, 1977 and undertook the renovation of the church.
Other pastors during the years were Father Joseph Broering, Father Steinhauser, Father Rosing, Father Paul Krebs, Father Mark Steidle, Father Douglas Fortner, Father G. Michael Greer and currently Father Aby Thampi.
Saint Ann became a mission of Saint John in 1999 the two parish’s work together to spread the good news in the city of Covington.