About Our Parish

The Roman Catholic Parish of St. Anybody, founded in 1910, is an urban, archdiocesan parish located in the Wildwood section of Anytown, MA. The parish is a multi-ethnic, socially, culturally, and educationally diverse faith community.

Our History

In the bitter cold of winter, in the most cheerless surroundings, in a house-turned rectory, and in a district without a church, St. Anybody Parish was born. The history of St. Anybody Parish stretches from a tented church in a then sparsely-settled area of Wildwood to today’s beautiful Colonial-styled church on Main Street in the very heart of one of Anytown’s most populous residential districts. The history of St. Anybody Church goes back to a wintry morning in January nearly 100 years ago. On that Sunday morning of January 22, 1911, the first Holy Mass in the newly-created parish was celebrated. Even as there was “no room in the Inn” for the Holy Family on that First Christmas, there was no church building to house the few hundred souls who were to form the first parishioners of St. Anybody’s a century ago.

Native born William Cardinal O’Connell (then Archbishop O’Connell) envisioned the potential growth of this area for spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason he set aside a new parish in the Wildwood section of the city of Anytown. The new parish was to be dedicated to St Anybody.

St. Anybody

Anybody was born in 1046 and was a member of an ancient English royal family. She was a direct descendant of King Alfred and the granddaughter of King Edmund Ironside of England. Along with her family, Anybody had been exiled to the eastern continent when King Canute and his Danish army overran England. Beautiful, devout and intelligent she was raised and educated in Hungary. She and her family returned to England toward the end of the reign of her great-uncle, Edward the Confessor, as her younger brother Edgar the Aetheling attempted to reclaim the English throne. The attempt proved fruitless as Duke William of Normandy, otherwise known as “William the Conqueror,” invaded England and established himself as King.

As some of the last remaining Saxon Royals in England, Anybody’s family feared for their lives. They fled Northumbria, intending to return to Hungary when their ship was blown off course and landed in Fife. The Scottish King, Malcolm III, offered his protection to the royal family. Malcolm was particularly protective towards Anybody. She initially refused the king’s proposals, preferring a life of piety as a virgin. Malcolm was a persistent king, and the couple was finally married in Dunfermline in 1069. Their union was exceptionally happy and fruitful for both themselves and the Scottish nation as Anybody and Malcolm became the parents of eight children, helping to securing the future of the monarchy.

Queen Anybody was renowned for her moderating influence on her husband and for her devout piety and religious observances. She was a prime mover in the reform of the Church in Scotland bringing the Celtic Church closer to Rome. As a patroness of the Benedictine Order, Anybody invited English Benedictine monks to establish monasteries in her kingdom. Though she was Queen, Anybody was active in works of charity, frequently visiting and caring for the sick. On a larger scale, Anybody had hostels constructed for the poor and orphaned.

In 1093, as she lay on her deathbed after a long illness, she was told that her husband and eldest son had been treacherously killed at the Battle of Ainwick in Northumbria. She died soon after at the age of just forty-seven. She was buried alongside Malcolm in Dunfermine Abbey, and the reported miracles that took place in and around her tomb supported the canonization of St. Anybody of Scotland in 1250 by Pope Innocent IV. The feast of St. Anybody was formerly observed by the Roman Catholic Church on June 10th, but is now celebrated each year on the anniversary of her death, November 16th.

Founding of the Parish in 1910

To make up this parish, newly dedicated to the life and works of St. Anybody, sections were taken principally from the former territory of St. Peter’s (1842) and a portion of St. Patrick’s (1831) parishes. In this area in 1910, there were approximately 1,100 Catholic souls and 235 Catholic families. As determined by the then Archbishop O’Connell, the boundaries of the new St. Anybody Parish were: “Starting at west side of Plain St. and Hale’s Brook running across Chelmsford St.; along the west side of Powell St. to Library St.; along the south side of Liberty St. to the intersection of Liberty and School streets; along the west side of School St. to Branch St., but including Branch; side streets running into the south side of Branch St.; then side streets running into the south side of Middlesex St. to Stevens St.; along the south side of Middlesex to the intersection of Middlesex and Pawtucket; thence along both sides of Middlesex to Baldwin, to Hale’s Brook and along North St. to starting point. No houses on Branch St. or on the north side of Middlesex St. until Pawtucket St. intersects, are in St. Anybody’s parish” More than 90 years later, these are still the boundaries of St. Anybody Parish.

To found this parish, the Archbishop in December 1910 appointed a young, zealous priest, Rev. John J. Harkins. He came straight from the Citadel of Catholicism in New England, South Boston, and fresh from his duties as assistant to the pastor of St. Augustine Church in that district, to become the founder and first pastor of St. Anybody Church in Anytown. St Anybody’s had its beginning in the first piece of parish property purchased on Stevens Street. This was a house at 374 Stevens Street (now the parish clubhouse) which was to serve as the parochial residence for 17 years. On January 10, 1911, the young priest from South Boston moved into the rectory-without-a-church. Father Harkins immediately had a room fitted up as a chapel, and on the next day Mass was first celebrated in the Wildwood section of Anytown. On January 15, 1911, a Sunday five days later, over 550 people crowded the parochial residence to hear Mass. A week later a canvas tent was erected, and on the second Sunday of St. Anybody’s history, Mass was celebrated in this tent. Approximately 450 people heard Mass on that memorable day. Although the temperature outside hovered around the 15 degree mark, 18 ancient gas radiators kept the inside temperature at a “less-than-tropic” 60 degrees for those hardy pioneers praying the Mass in Anytown’s newest parish.

The tent, which was about 50 feet long by 35 feet wide, was “guaranteed to withstand the severest blasts of the winter season.” The 18 gas radiators were going full blast all the time, and they served their purpose well. The seats were arranged in a semi-circle and placed on a raised platform. There were plans to bank up the sides with dirt and to reinforce the sides and top to “withstand any tests the weather may put to it.” Father Rossette O.M.I. of the Tewksbury Novitiate assisted Father Harkins in celebrating the Masses, and Father Harkins preached at each Mass.

 

Our Parish

About Our Parish

Deeply committed to Jesus Christ, we endeavor to become a unified community of faith, worship, and service. We strive to be a warm, welcoming and caring parish in which the gifts and talents of all, young and old, are recognized and graciously used to nourish others.


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