History of the Church
Our parish of St. Anne goes back to 1921 when a small mission church in Seal Beach was established. Masses were celebrated in a temporary building, a grain storehouse located at Main St. and Electric Ave. In 1922, the Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego was established by Bishop John J. Cantwell. Rev. Austin Fleming was assigned as the first pastor of St. Anne. Throughout 1922 Fr. Fleming was both parish priest and carpenter. With the support of a few parishioners especially a generous Chicago woman who donated 1,000 dollars asking that the parish be dedicated to St. Anne, the church was erected on 317-319 Tenth Street.
Fr. Louis Schaffer took over the parish in 1923 which began with just 97 persons: 59 over eighteen, 38 under eighteen. Fr. C. Norman Raley, one-time vice-president of Georgetown University, came to pastor St. Anne in 1927. Fr. Christopher Bradley came to the parish in May of 1936, the same year Los Angeles was named an Archdiocese under newly appointed Archbishop Cantwell. The parish was soon outgrowing its little church. On August 22, 1937, the new St. Anne Church was dedicated and completed at a cost of $6,000.
In 1943, Fr. Thomas O’Sullivan was assigned as pastor of the parish. During his 15-years of service, St. Anne was able to purchase five more lots which became the only private parking lot of any size in town. A small parish rectory was built in front of the old parish hall and the original church moved from its original location. By July of 1944, the establishment of the Naval Ammunition and Net Depot saw beach homes and buildings giving way to naval piers and jetties as well as crops of new homes and a shopping plaza. Fr. O’Sullivan, well respected by the community, retired in 1958 and passed away in 1962.
In July of 1962, Fr. William Diamond came to St. Anne. During the ensuing ten years, St. Anne experienced an ever-increasing pace of growth and the parish made space for faith formation classes by building a new hall in 1966. Under Fr. Diamond’s watch six additional lots were obtained and the parking lot expanded to 60 spaces. New parishioners lived on the islands that sprang up from the clam beds and duck haunts of Sunset Beach, now known as "Huntington Harbour".
In March 1976, Fr. Francis Doherty came to the parish the same year that new Diocese of Orange was established under Bishop William R. Johnson. Fr. Michael Collins served as pastor from 1980 – 1989. Fr. Patrick A. Doherty in 1989 was assigned to the parish by Bishop Norman McFarland. He served 4 years with the help of Monsignor Michael Collins, pastor emeritus.
Fr. Robert Vidal became pastor of St. Anne in 1993. Assisted by Msgr. Michael Collins for many years, Fr. Bob cared deeply for his growing flock. By 2007 the parish had grown to about 700 registered. Fr. Bob was instrumental in the further growth, renovations and improvements of the parish such as parking lot drainage and repaving (2000), the earthquake retrofitting and expansion of the Hall (2002), the earthquake retrofit of the Church (2007), the rectory rehab (2009) and improvements to the priest residences (2011).
After Fr. Bob’s retirement in 2011, Bishop Tod Brown appointed Msgr. Michael Heher as the 17th pastor of St. Anne where he continues to foster the spiritual, pastoral and working operations of the parish. At the same time, to assist Msgr. Mike to meet the growing needs of St. Anne, the church’s 1st parochial vicar and newly ordained, Fr. Duy Le, was assigned to the church in July 2011. After Fr. Duy’s four year term was completed, Fr. Benjamin Tran was assigned to the parish as his replacement as parochial vicar. Fr. Bob continues to assist as pastor emeritus. Currently St. Anne has now grown to approximately 830 families.