We are the third youngest parish in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Our parish was established by Archbishop John L. May in June of 1981. Father Robert Leibrecht was appoined the founding pastor. He began building the new parish community with some 800 families, mostly from the parishes of St. Joseph in Cottleville and All Saints in St. Peters. Approximately 100 of the founding families came from St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The new parish's first meeting was held at the Fairmount School cafeteria on 20 July 1981 and was attended by over 500 people. At that meeting the new parishioners voiced their determination to have a permanent church in which to worship, a school, and a good-sized parish hall in which to assemble for fellowship.
After learning that they were to choose the patron saint(s) for the new parish, the founding parishioners made various suggestions. Saints Joachim and Ann, the parents of Mary, were chosen by an overwhelming majority vote at the parish's first Celebration of Eucharist on July 26, 1981. Unknown to those voting parishioners at the time was the fact that July 26th, the day on which they had made the decision, is the Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Ann on the Church's liturgical calendar!
At the outset, parishioners gathered for worship in the cafeteria of Fairmount School. Founding parishioners still fondly remember the days of "St. Fairmount!" A Parish School of Religion program was quickly established for the religious education of children and those classes were also held at Fairmount School on Sunday mornings. The parish's parochial school children continued to attend neighboring parochial schools.
A Parish Pastoral Council was established very soon after the first celebration of Sunday Eucharist. The former parishioners of St. Joseph and of All Saints each elected five members to the new Parish Council. The former St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishioners each elected one member. Thus, the new Parish Council began its efforts with a total of twelve members. The St. Joachim Men's Club, the St. Ann Ladies' Club and the Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service were established before the end of 1981. The temporary parish office and rectory were located in the basement of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish rectory for the first year and a half. We owe Father Clyde McClain and the people of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish a huge debt of gratitude for putting up with us for that length of time.
Sts. Joachim and Ann Rectory was completed in December of 1982. In September 1983, a 13-room school building and cafeteria were completed. Sts. Joachim and Ann School opened with an enrollment of 350 students. The following June, construction was completed on our Church and we gladly moved our Sunday worship from Fairmount School to our own spiritual home. We owe a profound debt of gratitude to the Francis Howell School District and to the staff of Fairmount School who went out of their way to accommodate us for those first three years. In 1986, a first school addition of five classrooms and a faculty lounge was completed. As the St. Charles area was blossoming with new population, so the enrollment at Sts. Joachim and Ann School was rapidly on the rise. This made necessary a second addition to the school -- consisting of eight classrooms, and adult education room, and a youth office -- which was completed in 1989. This addition is a freestanding building and was designed so that it could be converted into a gym should the school enrollment eventually decrease. Shortly thereafter, the Athletic Association built our concession stand. The Care Service, too, eventually built their original building from which they continued to grow their ministries of service to the needy in our area.
In 2006 we completed construction on a freestanding parish center -- including a gymnasium with theatrical stage, a full service kitchen, a meeting room and a youth ministry office. We also undertook a major expansion to our Church, increasing seating capacity to 900 and providing our community a beautiful and welcoming gathering space for our coming and going from worship. We look forward at some point, once the current construction debt has been eliminated, to the privilege of completing the interior of our Church in such a way that it will be the most artistically noble house of prayer we can provide for the honor and glory of God.
Any telling of the history of Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish would be gravely lacking if did not afford a special word to the Care Service. From the first day of the parish's existence, Father Bob Leibrecht and his new parishioners made a commitment to see to it that Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish would provide for the needs of the poor in our area. When they set out to raise $5000 as start-up funding to get the new parish off the ground, 10% of those start-up funds were put into a shoe box to serve the needs of the poor. With that shoebox and its contents in hand, parishioners began their outreach to the poor in the garages and kitchens of five parishioners' homes before it builts its own first building on the parish campus. Thirty-three years later, the history of the growth of the Care Service is truly a miracle story. Today the ministries and services of the Care Service now extend beyond St. Charles County into neighboring Lincoln and Warren Counties. Having outgrown its original modest dwelling, the Care Service has relocated to the former Church of the Shepherd campus directly south of our parish and established there its Tri-County Outreach Center. This one-stop social service outreach facility is the first entity of its kind in the State of Missouri.
Through it all, the building of buildings has not been the real accomplishment. The real accomplishment has been the growth of faith at Sts. Joachim and Ann, faith which finds vibrant expression in worship and faith which takes shape in a spectrum of ministries and services for the sake of the Gospel and for the service of God's people.
We have taken up a new commitment to eliminate our construction debt over the course of the coming years while at the same time replacing some worn out original roofs on our buildings so that we can, thereafter, not only complete the interior of our Church but also grow ministries and services to meet the needs of God's people in our area. We pray that God will help us become more and more fully the living Body of His Son, living and working in His name!