St. Bernadette's parish and church had its beginning when the first Mass was celebrated in 1912. As a mission church of St. Mary of the Mount, originally called St. Ann's, the church came about through the interest and efforts of Frank Bucknam, a stock broker from New York City, and his wife Anna Roos Bucknam.
The Roos family first came to the Canadensis area by way of Michael Roos visiting Canadensis, meeting and then marrying Sophia Krummell of Krummell Hill, located near Skytop. After marrying and returning to New York City, and his Carriage and Wagon Business, Michael and Sophia Roos had a family of three daughters and one son, John. It was John who returned to Barrett Township in 1912 to set up a Blacksmith Business at the Forks of Buck Hill and Canadensis. His sister, Anna, was married to Frank Bucknam and they frequently visited John Roos, his wife, Emily, and their family. The Bucknam's love of the Pocono Mountains led them to build a summer home on Krummell Hill across from the former Poplars Boarding House.
Mr. Bucknam was a convert to the Catholic religion and a devoted believer. He was quite disturbed that there was no Catholic Church in the area and so he contacted Father Patrick J. Boland who was pastor of St. Mary of the Mount Church in Mount Pocono. Between Father Boland and Mr. Bucknam, they worked out an arrangement for a church to be built in Canadensis. Land for the church was purchased by Mr. Bucknam from George Crane who then owned Pine Knob Inn. Mr Bucknam not only donated the land but also the main alter, church bell, and stained glass window which serves as a background for the main alter. The window was given in memory of his mother-in-law, Sophia Krummell Roos, as the inscription on the window sill commemorates. Mr. Bucknam's generosity extended beyond these gifts also to include payment of the interest on the mortgage of the church until the debt was clear.
The church was built in 1912 on its present site in Canadensis and was named Saint Ann's. During the summer of 1912, the first Mass was celebrated even though the building was not completed. Recollections of the first Mass, from members of the Roos family attending, were that the foundation and floor joists were in place with boards laid across the joists to provide standing and kneeling space for parishioners and summer visitors. Two saw horses with boards laid across served as the altar. Father Patrick J. Boland was celebrant of the Sunday Mass on a very hot summer day. The hot day is well remembered because of no roof and no shade -- and several ladies fainted in the hot sun.
Before the church was built, Mass was celebrated once a month in private homes. Frequently used was the home of Anthony Caprioli and also the Belvedere Inn, then owned by Leo Caprioli. Father Boland would come down from Mt. Pocono by train and be met at the Cresco railroad station. In the winter months he was driven from Cresco to Canadensis by bobsled. After Mass, he would go to the home of one of the parishioners for dinner and then off back to Mt. Pocono on the late afternoon train. The first resident pastor for St. Ann's Church, Father Martin J. Maher, resided at the William Inn, Canadensis. The Inn is now Frogtown Inn. Pastors in later years lived at the Canadensis House. St. Ann's was one of a number of mission churches started by Father Boland and continued in later years by Msgr. C.A. McHugh. As pastors of St. Mary of the Mount over a fifty year period, Father Boland and Msgr. McHugh were in charge of several mission churches in the Pocono Mountains of which one was St. Ann's. St. Ann's orignial parishioners were:
- The Brentini Family
- Mrs. Harry Krummell
- Mr. & Mrs. Adolph Caprioli Sr. & Family
- Mr. John Marro
- Mr. & Mrs. Michael McAndrew
- Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Caprioli & Family
- Mrs. Daniel Meinweiser
- Mr. Leo Caprioli
- Mr. & Mrs. John Roose and Family
- Mr. Michael Caprioli
- Mrs. Margaret Vogt and Family.
- Mr. & Mrs. James Foley and Family
The first confirmation class was held in 1915 and Bishop Hoban of the Diocese of Scranton officiated. In 1967 St. Ann's Mission was made into a separate parish and a new parish home was built just above the church. The name of the church was changed from St. Ann's to St. Bernadette's. A mission church, Our Lady of Fatima, in Promised Land is now part of St. Bernadette's parish. Father Andrew P. Maloney was assigned as the first Pastor of St. Bernadette's parish and served from 1967 to 1970. In 1970, Father John J. Kelley assumed responsibilities as our Pastor and served until 1974 when Father William F. Hines replaced him. Father Hines was our pastor until 1981. In 1981, Father Edward A. Scott became our Pastor for about a year. Father Robert J. Gibson assumed Pastoral duties in 1983 and remained until 1995. Father Alfred J. Vito, was Pastor from1995 until 2005 and Fr. David Cramer from 2006 to 2008. Fr. Ed Michelini was Pastor during the Parish transition under the Diocean "Called to Holiness and Mission" process. In July 2009 the Parish was "linked" with St. Mary of the Mount and St. Ann's in Tobyhanna, and in July 2010 was joined in "partnership" where one Pastor, Fr. Joseph Kopacz became responsible for all three parishes.
One major addition was made to the original church structure several years ago to enlarge the seating capacity by building a wing on one side of the main alter. The parking space was also made large. Recent expansion projects included the construction of a ramp to accommodate our handicapped parishioners and visitors; and a major expansion of the main entrance to enclose the stairs and provide adequate space for a ceremonial vestibule, vestry and cry chapel.
Since it's inception as a parish, under the leadership of our Bishops and Pastors, Saint Bernadette Parish has steadily grown. Parish registers document the many births, marriages, and new members moving into our community or converting to the Catholic Faith. Through Diocesan Renew Programs and most recently an in-depth Parish Self-Study Program, Saint Bernadette Parish has addressed the ways it can continue to be involved in the local communities and meet the needs of the 582 families and 1533 members it now serves. The vibrancy of our parish life and involvement in our community continues to fulfill the original intent of the church, as conceived by Mr. Bucknam and Father Boland. Saint Bernadette continues to serve the spiritual needs of the Catholic year-around parishioners and the summer visitors as we begin our fourth decade as a Parish, and more than 85 years as a Welcoming Christian Community. The name of the church has changed, the number of people it serves has grown but the original intent has continued for over 80 years and will continue to do so into the next millennium.