Bishop John A. Noll of Fort Wayne, Indiana established a mission parish in Beverly Shores in September of 1950. Our small group of parishioners were served originally by Franciscan priests from Seven Dolors Shrine in Valparaiso. Our first mass was celebrated in the Beverly Shores Fire Station. This prompted one wag to observe that the Holy Spirit (tongues of fire) must have enjoyed that.
For the first few years of the mission parish, mass was celebrated in many places including: Beverly Shores Town Hall, Lenard’s Casino, Virginia Dare. Then parishioners decided to raise funds to build a permanent place of worship. Cement blocks sold at $1.00 each were used to build the church. Spaghetti suppers were shared on the lawn at Tony and Catherine D’Andrea’s home. Pot luck suppers and bingo parties also added to the building fund.
In 1954 Helen Wood, a friend of the parishioners, donated five acres of land for the location of the church, with the specific understanding that this building also would be available for community gatherings. Our church was completed that year.
Two years later St. Ann of the Dunes was designated as a parish and Reverend Joseph Klinker was appointed to be our pastor. In 1959 Rev. Klinker was transferred and in 1960 Reverend Henry Ameling was assigned as our Administrator. He continued in this position until August 1965 when Reverend Louis Letko was named as Administrator. He served our parish until July, 1968.
On July 29, 1968 Reverend Charles E. Doyle was assigned to the position of pastor of St. Ann. A few months later our Parish Council petitioned Bishop Andrew Grutka of Gary, Indiana to remodel and enlarge our church in order to better serve our growing community.
Architect E. Masiulis designed two wings, north and south. His plans also place the altar immediately in front of large windows facing a dune to the south. The north wing was made the entrance to the church. Ground-breaking for the remodeling was held in April 1970. Delays in construction, however, caused some very cold celebrations until Christmas mass. By then most of the work had been completed, including the heating.
Reverend Doyle served as our pastor for 28 years during which time additional property north of the parish was purchased to serve as a rectory. A donation from a parishioner for an addition to the rectory enabled us to add a meeting room to the rectory in the early 1990s. Landscaping for the church and the rectory was also improved during his tenure.
Another major renovation of our church building took place in 1998. Professional designers and members of our parish volunteered their time and expertise. The interior of our church was painted, carpeted and tiled, blending in with the dune setting of our church. The Repository was placed on the west side of the church. The kitchen area was updated with new ranges, more cupboard space, new plumbing fixtures and a window.
When Reverend Doyle retired, following two major heart operations, Reverend John Barasinski was appointed pastor of St. Ann. Reverend Barasinski began remodeling the rectory, doing much of the dry walling, tiling, and finished carpentry work himself. Further improvements to our church building are on-going as we approach our 50th Anniversary at St. Ann of the Dunes Parish. A parish office, a renovated sacristy and a handicapped-accessible restroom have been added. In addition, a storage shed replaced the old garage which fell in serious disrepair.
In preparation for St. Ann’s fiftieth Anniversary further improvements were made in year 2000.
A baptismal fount, a sanctuary cross, a parish office, a Religious Education Room, a Sacristy and a handicapped accessible restroom were added.
In 2003 the Parish undertook the Reconstruction of the Parish House, adding office space, storage space and enlarging the living quarters for our Pastor. In order to accommodate the rapid growth of our parish, in 2007 we enlarged our parking lot from a parking capacity of 48 cars to 125. In the summer of 2009 St. Ann’s church facade underwent a badly needed face-lift, with a new roof equipped with electric de-icing system. All the doors have been replaced as well, In the winter of 2010 our kitchen, and the ladies bathroom have been remodeled. An additional storage room and a new CCD/meeting room have also been added.
We appeal to all our parishioners to continue your generous support without which Saint Ann of the Dunes growth and future would be in jeopardy.
The parish now serves approximately 375 permanent families, and 65 summer residential families. From the small group that attended our first mass held at the Fire Station, the Parish family has multiplied. The Holy Spirit must enjoy this as well.