Welcome! St. Anne Chapel has been a mission of Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral for nearly a century. We are located on Gallows Hill in the heart of Frenchtown in the downtown area of St. Thomas. Our chapel is an evangelical outreach to the people of Frenchtown as we worship and encourage each other in the faith as a community of believers. Our commitment to liturgy, sacraments, pastoral care, education and prayer becomes the embodiment of Christ in his kingdom.
Father John Guillo came to the United States Virgin Islands from Wayne, Michigan, in 1918. Speaking French fluently, he developed an enduring relationship with the settlers of Carenage on St. Thomas. Knowing that the community was of the Catholic faith, it became his mission to bring these non-practicing members back into the fold of the Roman Catholic Church. The people of Carenage were a humble, impoverished group. Cognizant of their appearance and stature among locals, the French settlers developed self-segregation behaviors to avoid embarrassment and taunting. The settlers of Frenchtown needed a place for devotion and Father Guillo wrote to the Rev. Joseph Schneider, the Redemptorist Provincial of the Baltimore province in Maryland, for permission to construct a church. Not only was permission granted, but a sizable donation was sent to begin the project. Mr. James Boschulte donated the land to the Roman Catholic Diocese of the Virgin Islands. Plans were drawn and preparations were made following the formal announcement on April 21, 1919. The church would be perched on the pinnacle of Gallows Hill, a site used to hang criminals. Work began in 1920 under the advice of one Mr. Pettigrew, the architect.
In the interim, worship was conducted in a school, a small, wood framed house at the foot of the property. The primary rock composition on the hill was andesine, which had to be blasted and excavated by hand. Twelve feet had to be unearthed from Gallows Hill in preparation of a foundation. Much of the work was generously donated by the people of Frenchtown, with the blasting conducted and supervised by the United States Navy under the tenure of Lt. Phillip Williams. Necessary equipment and tools were loaned from the Navy, which was establishing a sound military base on the island. The erection of the structure began on March 1, 1921. Mr. Emanuel John, the contractor and Mr. Hennessy, chief mason, worked diligently towards its completion. However, on April 19th of the same year, Fr. Guillo was transferred to a parish in Boston, Massachusetts. Fr. Paul Dugal would eventually take the lead. The church was the product of toil and sweat of men, women and children of Frenchtown, everyone contributing by carrying cement, water and sand during their free time. Fr. Dugal was no stranger to hard work; a competent carpenter, he assisted in building the first altar and benches.
The faith of the people in the little town was rekindled when the church was dedicated in honor of St. Anne, the patron saint of fishermen, on December 25, 1921, at a 9 a.m. Mass. Fr. Dugal initiated an outdoor procession on the Solemnity of Saints Joachim and Anne. It became an annual event at the church, furthering the interest and awareness of the French settlers. Appointed to a new parish, Fr. Dugal was soon replaced by Fr. Guillo again, who remained in service to God and the people of Frenchtown for six more years. Fr. Leo St. Lawrence came in 1931 and became dedicated to people, their way of life, and the new church. He initiated the purchase of a life size statue of St. Anne which currently stands overlooking and protecting the fishermen and their families.
During his tenure, a side altar was made and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the building was lengthened, a sacristy was added and a new entrance was built. Fr. St. Lawrence's commitment and dedication instilled further confidence and loyalty in the French community. Fr. Arthur Finn continued the work of the Redemptorist Fathers and established the first boys choir at St. Anne in 1935. Many in the French village followed the Lord's path by entering the Roman Catholic ministry: Alma Baptiste, Clement Danet, Francelia Greaux, Marguerite Greaux, Anatalia Magras, Alberto Olive, Alphonse Olive and Theresa Olive.
Almost 100 years later, the St. Anne Chapel community is far more mixed. We are black and white, Hispanic and Filipinos, West Indians and mainlanders. We celebrate our differences in a simple little chapel that recognizes we are all the family of God. Our Masses are usually in English, but are often bilingual. We have a monthly Mass in French and celebrate Filipino holy days with Mass in Filipino dialects. One of our most joyful annual celebrations is our annual patronal procession, carrying the image of St. Anne and her child, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the bayside, where the priest does a blessing of boats. Come join us!
MOVING TOWARD THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF FOUNDATION
St. Anne Chapel is one of the oldest houses of worship in the Virgin Islands that is still in its original structure. We are preparing for the commemoration, on Christmas Day 2021, of the 100th anniversary of the first Mass celebrated in the chapel on Christmas day 1921. We will have special activities between now and then in anticipation of our big day. However, we are facing several large challenges.
In April 2010, we installed an antique French Gothic altar, reredos, Lady shrine, baptismal font and wall paneling. They are so classic and reverential that they have inspired us to move forward with remodeling. We are looking forward to more restoration in preparation for our 100th anniversary.
Mass Schedule Saint Anne's Chapel
Wednesday - 5:00PM
Saturday (Vigil ) - 5:00 PM
Sunday - 8:30 AM
Phone: (340) 714-1101
Fax: (340) 714-5231
Altona 42, Carenage, Frenchtown
PO Box 306810, St. Thomas, VI 00803