We, the family of St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church, the body of Jesus Christ, are piously called to assertively provide opportunities for each person to use their time, talents, and treasure for the greater glory of God, and to live and grow in our faith in the presence of Jesus Christ.
We thereby bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to our community through joyful proclamation of God’s Word, prayerful worship, reverent celebration of the sacraments, and catechesis for everyone about the Universal Church and its place in the world and our local community.
Dedication of St. Paul the Apostle Church, July, 1928.
The parish of Saint Paul the Apostle, Annville, covers a large territory of five complete townships. The principal centers of population are Annville, Cleona, and the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, remembered by thousands of Catholic servicemen and their priest chaplains stationed there during World War II. The Indiantown Gap area has an interesting Catholic history. There are stories of missionary priests at the Gap and an old trail which missionaries might have travelled. Beyond the Gap also along the Stony Creek, the Jesuit Fathers from then Saint Joseph’s College in Philadelphia, purchased a farm of 80 acres in 1874, and ministered to Catholics in the area.
Catholicism began to flourish in the Annville area in the 1920s, when Italian immigrants, seeking work in stone quarries and a new life in this country, settled there. Families met in homes to provide religious education for their children, and Saint Gertrude Church in Lebanon provided pastoral care to this fledgling mission named for Saint Paul the Apostle. The members of the mission attended Mass in Lebanon at Saint Gertrude Church. Father Leopold Stump found 30 families and, aided by Mrs. John Kreider, started an instruction class at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Micozzi.
The acquisition of a church building in 1927 elevated the mission to parish status. The church was purchased from the United Brethren and stood at West Main and Concord Streets. Under the direction of Father Stump and Father Leo Kirchner, assistant pastor of then Saint Gertrude, the much needed repairs to the long-neglected church building were completed, and the first Mass in the newly renovated church was held on July 15, 1928. Just five days later, Bishop Philip McDevitt formally established the parish and placed it under the patronage of Saint Paul the Apostle. The church was solemnly blessed by Bishop McDevitt on September 7, 1928. While language barriers created a challenge, as most Italian worshippers spoke little English, strong pastoral leadership overcame the hurdles, and the parish grew steadily.
A rectory was purchased in 1929 and major renovations were made to the church in 1953 by Father Paul Adair. During the pastorate of Father Hubert McGuire, eight acres of land were purchased in east Annville for future needs of the parish. Those eight acres now comprise the church and rectory complex, consecrated on November 1, 1981 by then Bishop Joseph T. Daley.
From 1928 until 1937, the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart conducted summer vacation school for the children. From 1937 until the early 1970s, The Sisters of Saint Joseph from then Lebanon Catholic High School took charge of the instruction class. Many children from the parish attended the parochial schools in Hershey or Lebanon and attended Lebanon Catholic High School. Children from St. Paul even now continue to attend Lebanon Catholic School now consolidated into one grade school and high school. Currently, the parish has a thriving Religious Education program that has been in existence since the late 1970s.
In the 1970s, the parish reached out to immigrants when Fort Indiantown Gap served as a resettlement camp for Vietnamese refugees. Opening its doors to them, parishioners sponsored families and provided assistance with food, shelter, and medical services. In 1990, the parish welcomed its own mission parish in Haiti called Saint Marc’s. Beginning in 2001, several trips to the sister parish have been made by members of the Haiti Ministry as a way to become better informed about the poor there.
The church celebrated its 35thyear in the current parish building in 2016 with many festivities, a picnic, and a special Mass on November 1stcelebrated by Bishop Ronald Gainer. Part of the 35thanniversary celebration was the parish’s fundraising for its newest addition, the Garden of Hope, a special memorial garden for the unborn and for all those to be remembered by the faithful of the community. Groundbreaking for the garden took place in late June of 2017. The garden features a statue of Our Lady of Hope, blessed by Bishop Gainer at the anniversary Mass.
Our most recent pastor, Fr. Job Foote, O.S. B. from the Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, left us in June of 2019 after being assigned to our parish ofr almost 7 years.
Our current pastor, Fr. Kevin Coyle comes to us from St. Catherine Laboure where he was the parochial vicar for two years and the chaplain at Bishop McDevitt High School. Also ministering to the people of Saint Paul is Deacon Tony Kearney, a long time parishioner. Deacon Tony was assigned to the parish in 2010, following his ordination to the permanent deaconate.
Saint Paul the Apostle Parish has grown from its original 30 families to now serving approximately 625 households and close to 1500 souls, and continues to flourish in the community of Annville.