By Dc. Tom Picciano, contributing writer, and Dc. Tom Cuskey, editor

Svhe is the grandmother of Jesus, on Mary’s side of the Holy Family, and her feast day is July 26. She is St. Anne, and two parishes in our diocese celebrate her life and seek her intercession with annual traditions of devotions and prayer. 

St. Anne, who shares her feast day with her spouse, St. Joachim, also shares responsibility with him as the patron saint of grandparents. St. Anne is also a patron saint of pregnancy and safe childbirth. Honoring her and praying for her intercession in these causes has a very rich diocesan history.

In Binghamton, Holy Trinity Parish is on the site of what once was St Anne’s. In 2004, St Anne, St Joseph and St Stanislaus churches merged to form the new community, but the tradition of celebrating the July triduum to St. Anne continues. The original nine-day novena was held twice a day, once in Slovak, once in English at St. Anne’s parish.  Current devotions include one evening of vespers, another with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and Mass on the final evening. Deacon James Tokos grew up in St. Ann’s parish and attended the parish school. He took part in the novenas as a student there.

“Celebrating St. Anne’s Novena is to reflect on the past and all the faithful people who helped us on our faith journey,” Tokos commented. “It is an absolutely beautiful experience.”

In Syracuse, the observance of St Anne’s spiritual influence on Mary and Jesus dates back almost the 19th Century founding of St. Vincent DePaul Church. Anne Gorton is the parish coordinator of the three-day novena.

“This is our 128th consecutive novena and we have survived Covid and everything else,” Gorton proudly states. She also says, with equal pride, that the celebration is about grandmothers, as well as “a need today for spirituality. People are in a spiritual drought. When we have gatherings like this it brings people back.” 

Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Cunningham, who presided at Mass on evening number two of the St. Vincent DePaul observance, adds that “the devotional life of the Church is something that we can’t lose sight of.” Bishop Cunningham said that he has been told that Monsignor William F. Dougherty, the first pastor of the parish, “used to go to St. Anne with any difficulties he had. She responded favorably, so he responded favorably by having prayers on her annual feast day.” He adds that it’s “a great thing. It brings people together.”

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