In a demonstration of profound faith, the Catholic families of Havertown, who later became what is now Annunciation B.V.M. Parish, hiked many miles on foot to city parishes, like Old St. Joseph’s near Independence Hall, to attend Mass and engage the Church’s worship. Despite the challenge of such a journey, in great love they persisted until 1825, when St. Denis first opened its doors. As the community kept growing and their needs along with them, Catholics in the Brookline section of Havertown finally received word on Friday, April 29, 1927 that Cardinal Dougherty officially opened a new parish for them. Under the care of their archbishop and the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit, the advent of the Annunciation B.V.M. parish began.
After his arrival that same year, Rev. John Patrick Cahir, our first pastor, sought a temporary place to worship until the parishioners could build their own church. In the meantime, a rental property at 408 Strathmore Road served as a temporary rectory and the site for daily Mass. Shortly after, parishioners purchased land along Wexford Road, between Brookline Blvd. and Sagamore Rd. as the site of their new church and school, and, by December 1, 1927, construction finally began.
The faith of the first parishioners immediately bore fruit. Nearly one year after construction of the new church/school building, 28 children received their First Holy Communion and, by October of that same year, 87 children received Confirmation. During the Great Depression, parishioners kept the parish afloat by holding card parties, dances, suppers, lawn parties, and carnivals. A decade later, during World War II, parishioners served locally through Annunciation’s Red Cross and the parish War Bond Committee.
As Mass attendance surged in the 1950s, parishioners broke ground for a new church on the vacant lawn at Brookline Blvd. and Wexford Road. For financial support, parishioners journeyed door-to-door soliciting funds and the priests likewise gave what money they possessed until, on April 3, 1955, Fr. Cahir celebrated the first Mass in the newly built church. Sadly, however, nearly six months later on Thanksgiving morning of 1955, Fr. Cahir died. The parish community buried him beside the main entrance of the church where his body remains today. As time moved on and years rolled by, more buildings were erected, the school flourished, and the parish continued to grow. Eventually, both Annunciation B.V.M. and St. Denis parish schools closed and the communities merged to form a combined school now known as Cardinal Foley.
Although the church may appear cosmetically different from her humble beginnings, one thing remains the same: Annunciation B.V.M. is such because of the vibrant faith and generous works of the people. Our story begins and continues with the common love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, shared by so many surrounding families and supported by our Archdiocese, and will only end when we no longer bear this love.
And so, under the leadership of our current pastor, Fr. James M. Cox, over ninety years later we continue to love and serve Jesus Christ and the mission of His Gospel, seeking in all things to welcome others to join us in doing the same.