History

In any history of St. Ann Catholic Church, special recognition must be given to the Bannon family, who came to Haines City from New York at the turn of the century and were true pioneers of Catholicism in Florida.

At the request of the Bannon family, a Jesuit priest came from Tampa to Haines City to review the needs of the Catholic people in this area. When he arrived in 1890, the priest offered the first Mass ever celebrated here. Eventually priests came from Tampa to offer Mass in Winter Haven and Catholics from Haines City traveled there to celebrate the Eucharist.

Many years later in 1949, Father Nevin, pastor of St. Joseph in Winter Haven, started the Mission Chapel in Haines City and offered Mass there every Sunday. The chapel was in the annex of the Palm Crest Hotel. A few years later, Father John O’Sullivan and Father Charles Anderson were successively appointed pastor at St. Joseph and they continued the Sunday Mass at the mission in Haines City. Slightly ahead of its time, the local radio station, WGTO, which was located in Haines City at that time, broadcast Sunday Mass for those unable to attend.

In 1956, the Diocese of St. Augustine purchased the 12 acres of land that the present church occupies and suggested that the Haines City Mission build a church of its own to accommodate the increasing number of Catholics in the area and the many tourists who come here during the winter months.

The church was originally named the Church of the Transfiguration. Several years later after the creation of the Diocese of Orlando and at the request of the pastor and parishioners, Bishop Thomas J. Grady changed the name of the church to St. Ann in honor of the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In 1978, when Fr. Carlos Aizpun was appointed pastor, planning began for a new and larger church. The church was dedicated by Bishop Grady on November 18, 1984. With continued growth in the Haines City area, it has become necessary to enlarge the present church and construction under the guidance of Fr. Christopher Hoffmann is scheduled to begin in April, 2005.

In a world that has forgotten God, the Church of St. Ann proclaims to all who pass by that we have come to know and love God; that we will use this church to offer fitting worship to God with Masses and prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of life and for the many other blessings He has so generously bestowed upon us.