Founded in 1895 Saint Agnes Parish had a simple origin. The first Mass was offered in the home of Simon McMahon June 1889, located on the site of the current Sanford Elementary School (next door to the present Saint Agnes Church). On February 27, 1895, property was purchased on Smith Street where the erected building became the sixty-five year site of the church. There was a period of inactivity, from August 1942 to April 1952 after which the Church reopened. Groundbreaking for a larger church took place on August 23, 1959, and the first Mass was offered on April 17, 1960. Saint Agnes was a mission of St. Brigid Parish, Midland and served by their priests for the first 5 years. In 1965, St. Agnes became the responsibility of the pastor of St. Philip Neri, Coleman, still as a mission church. In 1966, St. Agnes was aligned with the parish of the Assumpton of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Midland and was elevated to the status of a "Parish", a big milestone for the St. Agnes congregation. A rectory was added in 1967, the vestibule was added in 1987, a parish hall in 1990, and finally a new office wing was added in 1998. Stained glass windows were installed in the church in 1987. Also in 1987 our present and past pastors' pictures were posted in the parish hall. From the time St Agnes Parish celebrated the 100th anniversary in 1995 to the present, the number of families served grew from 292 to 525.
On July 1, 2013, St. Agnes parish merged with the parishes of St. Philip Neri in Coleman and St. Anne in Edenville becoming Our Lady of Grace parish with worship sites in Edenville and Sanford.
St. Philip / St. Anne
St. Philip Neri was erected in 1896 as the mission church of another parish with many other mission parishes erected with it. They were created to expand the Catholic faith in the region.
Fr. Dennis Malone was the first priest to give mass at St. Philip with the help of Fr. Thomas Rafter. They stayed for eight years establishing the church and Catholic faith in the area. Throughout the years priests have come and gone but the church has stood strong.
St. Philip Neri remained a mission parish until 1956 when it finally turned into its own parish getting a brand new mission parish of its own: St. Anne in Edenville. Since then the churches grew in members and faith as they worked together to teach the Catholic faith in the Saginaw Diocese.
Our Patron Saints
St. Agnes was a Roman girl who was only thirteen years old when she suffered martyrdom for her Faith. Agnes had made a promise, a promise to God never to stain her purity. Her love for the Lord
was very great and she hated sin even more than death! Since she was very beautiful, many young men wished to marry Agnes, but she would always say, "Jesus Christ is my only Spouse." Procop, the Governor's son, became very angry when she refused him. He had tried to win her for his wife with rich gifts and promises, but the beautiful young girl kept saying, "I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!" In great anger, Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor. The Governor promised Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He tried to change her mind by putting her in chains, but her lovely face shone with joy. Next he sent her to a place of sin, but an Angel protected her. At last, she was condemned to death. Even the pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was as happy as a bride on her wedding day. She did not pay attention to those who begged her to save herself. "I would offend my Spouse," she said, "if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!" Then she prayed and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.
St. Anne is the Holy Patron of St. Anne’s Catholic Church. She is the grandmother of Jesus and is mentioned in the non-biblical gospel of James. St. Anne was born in Bethlehem and married a shepherd named Joachim from Nazareth when she was in her teens. They spent 20 happy years together supplying the temple of Jerusalem with sheep for sacrifice, but still couldn’t have any children. It is said that Joachim went out in the desert to pray for a child. There an angel came to him saying he and Anne will have a daughter, which they must name Mary, and have her dedicate herself to God. Soon afterward St. Anne had Mary. They followed the angel’s instructions by keeping Mary at the temple of Jerusalem, where she spent most of her childhood dedicated to God. At fourteen Mary was betrothed to Joseph of Nazareth, and so the story of Jesus’ birth began. St. Anne was very popular to the early Christians with some churches built for her. Even in the seventh century churches had feasts honoring the saint. St. Anne is scarcely spoken of in the New Testament.
St. Philip was born in 1515 in Florence, Italy. There he grew up with his father as an unsuccessful businessman in Italy. At 18 Philip’s father left him to could work at a more successful business. Young Philip explored the region and soon found a favorite spot in a chapel on the mountains. There he prayed daily until he decided to dedicate his life to God.
After his decision, Philip went to Rome to learn philosophy and theology. He soon believed his studies were interfering with his prayer so he left school. Turning into a hobbit-like figure, he prayed daily in the sanctuary of his own home. At nights Philip would roam the streets looking for a way to increase his faith. In 1548 Philip figured out he could do more work for God as a priest. Ordaining in 1551, St. Philip had moved to the church of San Girolamo. It was there that he learned to love confessions and eventually created meetings in which people could come to discuss spiritual readings and pray. The confessions started getting people to become Catholic. Growing in numbers, Philip’s meetings grew so big he had to create an entire new room to hold his meetings, which he called the Oratory. Word spread quickly about the success St. Philip was getting and most people were interested and happy with the devoted priest, but some other priests were jealous. There was even a short period of time in 1555 where Pope Vicar told Philip he could no longer hold his meetings because of the complaining priest but soon overturned the motion, since St. Philip was doing nothing wrong.
Since the establishment of the Oratory, St. Philip was known as a humble yet humorous priest that went around teaching people about God. Sadly at age 80 St. Philip died, but his oratories and his legacy live on