Annunciation has its roots in the early 1940s, when St. Ann’s Church in Tenley Circle was too small for its congregation and there was a major population boom in the Washington DC area. In 1937, Michael J. Curley, the Archbishop of Baltimore, purchased the property that the Church and School presently sit on. However, because of the war effort, construction could not be accomplished. Therefore, he bought an already erected church structure from Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Bethesda and was opened as the mission “Church of the Annunciation” on Sunday, July 11, 1943. The name was chosen by Archbishop Curley but may have been suggested by the first pastor, Rev. Russell Phelan.
On June 12, 1948, Archbishop O’Boyle of Baltimore separated Annunciation from St. Ann’s and established the parish. In 1950, the parish began a building program to construct Annunciation School, with the ground breaking ceremonies held in August 1953. A year later, most of the construction on the school, a convent, and parish hall had been completed, costing $765,000. The school opened for the fall semester of 1954, staffed with religious sisters from the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, a teaching order founded in 1846 by Blessed Cornelia Connelly. The parish hall opened for Church services on November 28, 1954 in order to accommodate the growing size of the parish. The buildings were officially dedicated on October 26, 1955. Fr. Phelan was a disciplinarian and a hard worker who helped transform Annunciation from a mission church to a sizable parish with a strong school. He died on January 3, 1963 and was remembered for his flawless memory of names and personal details of his parishioners.
Annunciation was introduced to the changes caused by Vatican II by its second and third pastors, Msgr. William Hoffman (1963-1966) and Msgr. E. Robert Arthur (1966-1971). In 1971, Msgr. Francis X. Walsh became pastor, but was soon transferred. Msgr. James F. Montgomery was named the fifth pastor of Annunciation Church in September 1972. He organized the construction of the present parish center in January 1975, realizing that the present Church was an attractive structure that needed to be redecorated. The new extension was dedicated in March 1976. That August, Annunciation had a special visitor for Mass: Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, then the 56 year old Archbishop of Krakow, who would be elected Pope John Paul II two years later. Msgr. Montgomery’s legacy lives on in the parish which he was the shepherd for over 28 years.
After Msgr. Montgomery passed away in 2000, Rev. Kevin Farrell was named pastor. Two years later, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop and was named Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Washington. Today, under Msgr. Antonicelli’s guidance, the parish has expanded its mission to help the poor, the youth, and to develop as a family of believers. Presently, the parish has over 1000 parishioners, 50 ministries, and is as vibrant as ever!
- Adapted from Tim Lanigan’s “50 Years on Massachusetts Avenue”