Ancaster’s history stretches back to the 1700’s, but the beginnings of the Catholic community were rather humble. The few Catholics in the area attended Mass at St. Augustine’s Parish in Dundas, founded in 1826. In 1949 a small wooden church was constructed at the corner of Fiddler’s Green Road and Wilson St. Father James Noonan served the church as a mission of Canadian Martyrs’ Parish in Hamilton.
After Father Loftus’ death in 1964, the Oblates continued to serve St. Ann’s Parish for another fifteen years. In their turn, Father Francis Quinlan, Father William O’Boyle, Father Edward Marcuk and Father Donald Brennan all served as pastor. After their departure from St. Ann’s, the Oblates continued their ministry within the diocese for five years, entrusted with the care of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in the city of Hamilton.
Monsignor Matthew Ustrzycki became the first diocesan pastor in 1979. He made many improvements to the church during his six-year tenure, and was subsequently named Auxiliary Bishop of Hamilton. He was succeeded by Father Victor McNamara, who directed the construction of St. Ann’s Parish Center. Completed in 1992, it provided much needed meeting space for the growing parish.
The expansion of Ancaster created a need for more Catholic schools. Father Loftus School was established in 1961 for senior elementary students. Upon its closure, St. Joachim’s School was opened in 1990. Just eight years later, Holy Name of Mary School was built in the Meadowlands, Ancaster’s newest neighbourhood. In 2010, Immaculate Conception School opened in a temporary location and later relocated to the site of the former Ancaster Fairgrounds.
Father Raymond Modeski became pastor of St. Ann’s in 1992. During his twelve-year tenure he oversaw improvements to the church and attended to the spiritual needs of a parish that had grown to over two thousand families. In 2002, parishioners celebrated the parish’s 50th anniversary by erecting a new statue of St. Ann outside the main entrance of the church. Father Dan Miehm became pastor of St. Ann’s in 2004 and led a busy faith community enhanced by tremendous lay involvement. Father Ian Duffy is the current pastor of St. Ann’s.
From humble beginnings, the Catholic community in Ancaster has grown into a large and vibrant parish, one characterized by rural and urban, old and new, a proud history and an exciting future. Like the mustard seed, we pray that we may continue to grow as the living sign and presence of God’s Kingdom.