Scranton, Pennsylvania Historical Summary
In 1902 Bishop Michael J. Hoban invited the Passionists to the mining region around Scranton. By the fall of 1902, they had built a temporary church on the west side in Round Woods. In 1905 the Passionists built and moved into St. Ann’s Monastery. The ground underneath the monastery shifted suddenly in 1911. The structure was damaged and the monastery was evacuated for a short time. In 1913 another shift occurred. This time the monastery foundation was reinforced, and in 1916 St. Ann’s Monastery was rededicated. For many years it served as a Passionist house of studies and a center of preaching for the northeastern United States. From 1905 to 1966 retreats for priests and deacons were conducted. One of the first men’s retreat leagues was founded at St. Ann’s.
In 1908 a parish hall was dedicated. St. Ann’s School opened in 1920. From 1926 to 1964, it offered high school diplomas. After 1964 it was exclusively a grade school. In 1929 St. Ann’s Monastery Church was dedicated. Today, it has more than 1,500 families. Volunteer and lay ministry programs thrive in the parish.
In thanksgiving for the blessings to the monastery, novena devotions to St. Ann began in 1924. In 1925 Father John Joseph Endler established St. Ann’s as a public pilgrimage site with the annual novena conducted from July 17 to 26, attracting thousands of pilgrims. Pilgrims are blessed with the St. Ann’s relic and obtain an anointing with St. Ann’s oil. Preachers’ talks are broadcast on local radio and television. A weekly radio broadcast was begun in 1942 and continued until 1991. A weekly Sunday Mass was begun in 1955 and telecast live from a chapel set up in the television studio. This continued until 1991.
In 1960 St. Ann’s Monastery was in need of repair. Consequently, a portion of the monastery was razed and the Passionists moved into St. Ann’s Convent. St. Ann’s Novena and Parish remained the primary ministries. In 1991 St. Ann’s Media began broadcasting daily Mass and other religious programs on cable TV and radio, locally and nationally.
In August 1996, Pope John Paul II declared St. Ann’s Church a minor basilica. Rededication as a national shrine basilica occurred on October 18, 1997, Achille Cardinal Silvestrini presiding. A new monastery was built and dedicated on July 8, 2000.