The Parish of Annunciation BVM, better known as St. Mary’s, was founded on September 9, 1857, by Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, C.S.S.R., D.D.

For a number of years before 1857, Jesuit Missionaries traveling through the Lehigh Valley, ministered to the spiritual needs of the German Catholics in Catasauqua and the surrounding communities.  The first efforts towards establishing a congregation at Catasauqua were made in 1847.

The Holy Sacrifice of Mass was celebrated for the first time in the home of George Schneider located at 300 Church St.  The house is still in existence.  Later, George Schneider moved to 128 Second St., and then to 105 Second St., where Mass and services were held by Reverends Charles Tupoly, John Kostensnick, and John Albert, all resident Fathers in Easton.

In the year 1856, the small struggling congregation had increased to eighteen families.  The house of George Schneider became too small to afford room for them all, and relying on the help of God, they acquired a small plot of ground, in the dimensions, 67 feet front on Second Street and 105 feet deep, where the church is now located.

St. Mary’s can rightly be called the Mother Church of many foreign-speaking Catholics who inhabited a vast area of Lehigh and Northampton Counties, north of east Allentown.  Many of the original families of the now flourishing parishes of Coplay, Stiles, Northampton, Egypt, Fullerton, and Fogelsville worshipped at St. Mary’s.

In 1857 the church was attended to as a mission of the Immaculate Conception Church (now Sacred Heart Church, Allentown).

Allentown, requiring the constant service of its pastor because of the increase of the number of its members, the Church of Annunciation, Catasauqua, became a mission of Holy Ghost Church, Bethlehem.  Father Albert was the first priest to attend St. Mary’s from Bethlehem.  In 1874 he bought the ground for a cemetery (Hanover Twsp.) Previously, the burial of the parishioners took place in Fairview Cemetery.  His successor was Father Joseph Winter, who attended the growing parish until May, 1877.  Father Winter was succeded by Father John Henry Badde, who came from Bethlehem and served from May 1877.  In 1878, he build the first parochial school, which contained two rooms and was given over to the capable care of the Sisters of St. Francis of Glen Riddle.   A home was purchased for the sisters and Second and Union Streets.  Three sisters arrived the first year, two teachers and one for domestic work.  The original enrollment numbered about 64 pupils.  

In 1878, Father Badde also built the first brick church.  The small frame building proved inadequate since the parish had increased to 65 active, zealous families.  The dimensions of the structure were 38 by 70 feet, and it was dedicated on August 18, 1878.

In 1884, St. Mary’s became a regular parish to which its first resident pastor, Father Badde was appointed.  He served the parish until 1886.  

In February 1888, Father Fechtel found a successor in Father F.J. Schlebbe, who continued the work until April 27, 1889, when Father John A. Seimetz was appointed by the Most Revered Patrick J. Ryan, D.D., Archbishop of Philadelphia, April 26, 1889.  On August 15, the Sodality was founded. 

On December 26, Father Seimetz bought a piece of ground from Mrs. Josephine Schneider and in 1890, began the erection of the present rectory.  It was occupied the following October.  In 1891 the interior of the church was greatly beautified and instead of the old stoves standing in the niches in the wall, a furnace was installed in the cellar.

The congregation grew continually, and, in 1896, the old church proved too small for the congregation.  In June 1896, Father Seimets began alteration and enlarged the church, 37 by 47 feet.  The whole interior was remodeled.  The enlargement proved to be sufficient and the practically new church was dedicated by the Archbishop on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1896.  Requiring more teachers for the school, Father Seimetz added two more classrooms to the old school erected in 1882.

In 1899 he began the erection of a convent for the sisters at the corner of Second and Union Sts.  The Sisters took possession of their new home n November 2, 1899.  The number of pupils increased so greatly that the school accommodations proved too small.  Father Seimetz saw the necessity to build a new school.  In May 1904, the old school was taken down and a new modern structure was erected.  The school is 70 by 71 feet, three stories high.  It contained eight classrooms, a cloakroom, and all the modern equipment of those days, with an assembly room and a stage on the third floor.  

The School building was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1904 by Archbishop Edmond F. Prendergast, D.D.  This school proved so satisfactory that several more parochial schools of the Archdiocese were built according.  In 1905, Father Seimetz bought a plot of ground for the children.

In February 1909, he bought the Kester property adjoining the rectory built in 1890.  In May, he erected/built a large addition to the rectory.

In 1912 on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee of Ordination Father Seimetz erected a new altar in commemoration to his deceased parents, Mathias and Mary Seimetz.  This altar was supplemented later by two others, one in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the other in honor of Saint Joseph, both harmonizing with the high altar in all details.  

On Christmas Day, 1*12, the new Estey Organ which had been installed in November was dedicated and used for the first time.

Many of the families of St. Mary’s lived in and about Coplay.  For their convenience the Mission of St. John the Baptist, Stiles, was established by Father Seimetz, and a chapel and school were built in 1920.  In 1927 the Mission became an independent parish and together with the new parish of St. Peter’s in Coplay, reduced the membership of St. Mary’s by half. 

Father Seimetz was called home to the Lord on December 19, 1933, and the Reverend John Fries was appointed to St. Mary’s on January 10, 1934, and served for 13 years.  Upon his arrival, he began to make much-needed repairs and improvements to the parish building among which were decorating the church, the rebuilding of the altar into one of more liturgical design, and the conversion of the heating system to oil.  In the school, the classrooms were shifted to the second floor to make room for social functions on the first floor.  

On January 30. 1939, he formed a Parish Credit Union which proved successful and helpful.   

Father Fries was followed by Rev. William Koenig on April 16, 1947, and he continued the work begun by his predecessor.  Among other things, he beautified the cemetery and put a new roof on the school and convent.  

Father Koenig was followed by Rev. Henry Huesman, on August 27, 1953.  Father Huesman also made extensive improvements and repairs including the brick-coating of the school, convent, and rectory.  

Annunciation BVM Elementary School was joined to St. Elizabeth Elementary School, Whitehall in 1984.

During the next 50 years many renovations and improvements were made.  Rev. Aloysius Schmid was devoted to the Blessed Mother and a statue in her memory was placed in the back of the church for his dedication to the unborn and his commitment to the Respect Life Apostolate.  Rev. Edward Sacks renovated the entire church in the early 1980’s.

Msgr. Joseph Kurtz completed an addition to the Church vestibule area with the addition of a rear sacristy and lavatories off of the main vestibule.  A new stained glass window was also installed in the rear sacristy.  Msgr. Kurtz was transferred to Notre Dame Parish in Bethlehem in October of 1996.  Monsignor Kurtz was named a Bishop by Pope John Paul II and served as Bishop of Knoxville Tennessee Diocese until August 14, 2007.  Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Kurts to the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky.  Archbishop Kurtz was installed as Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky on August 15, 2007, and Pope Francis  accepted his retirement on February 8, 2022.

Rev. Francis Gillespie was instrumental in adding the air conditioner to St. Mary’s during his tenure.  Father Gillespie served St.Mary’s from December 5, 1996, to November 2, 2002. 

Father Francis Naive briefly then served as Parish Administrator until June 29, 2003 when Father Edward Domin was appointed Pastor.

Father Edward Domin presided over the renovation of the main sanctuary area with the installation of tile flooring, new carpeting, and refinishing of the hardwood floors to the body of the church.  Father Domin built a new garage and storage area with the assistance of parishioners of St. Mary’s (specifically Alfred Berner).  Father Edward Domin served St. Mary’s until June 10, 2006. 

Rev. Msgr. Albert Byrne was appointed Pastor of St. Mary’s serving as Pastor until June of 2008.

Rev. Msgr. Victor Finelli served as Pastoral Administrator until June of 2011.  During his time at Saint Mary’s Monsignor Finelli made upgrades to the Priest’s residence in the Rectory and moved the Parish Office to the ground level of the Rectory to be more accessible to all parishioners.  

Father Anthony Drouncheck served as Pastoral Administrator from June 13, 2011 to June 20, 2016.

Father John Krivak served St. Mary’s from June 20, 2016 to June 15, 2021.  During this time period, the Churches throughout the Diocese faced uncharted waters.  The COVID Pandemic closed Parishes to public Masses in March of 2020.

On March 16, 2020, Bishop Schlert temporarily suspended public participation in Mass but asked that churches around the Diocese remain open so that the faithful would have a place of refuge for private prayer in a time of great uncertainty and anxiety.

With social distancing and other safety measures in place, Masses reopened to the public on June 1, 2020, subject to capacity limits, and on August 31, 2020, all diocesan schools reopened for in-person learning.  The obligation for Catholics to attend Mass resumed on August 15, 2021 yet attendance has not returned to pre-covid numbers due to the availability of Mass Streaming (Mass Streaming does not fulfill the obligation to attend Mass for those who are not ill or homebound.)  Father was transferred to St. Theresa’s in Hellertown on June 15, 2021.

St. Mary’s is now currently being served by Father Eric Tolentino and was appointed Pastor in June, 2022.  Father Tolentino prayerfully welcomes those who have been apart from the Church to come home and receive the Blessed Body of Christ at Mass weekly.