St Agnes Church was established on March 19, 1940 by Bishop Daniel J. Gerchke, Bishop of Tucson. The First Mass was held on April 14, 1940 in the Arizona Grocery Company, at 16th St and Yale in Phoenix, a building the owners allowed the temporary church to meet in. The first pastor was Msg. Robert Donohoe.
Groundbreaking for St Agnes' own church was in September 1940. The church and hall were completed in March 1941. Today these buildings serve as the parish halls - Donohoe Center and Pius XII Hall.
The construction of the main church was begun in August 1952. St Agnes church was said to be the longest church building in the state.
From a news article dated Friday August 1, 1952:
"Organized in 1940, St Agnes Parish is a vivid proof of the growth of Phoenix. Its membership of less than 200 families has grown to more than 1000, Father Donohoe said."
The new church, continued Father, would seat 1000 people on the main floor and in the balcony over the entrance. Additionally there was space for a choir of 40 people behind the altar.
The statue of St Agnes in the church was a composite of 28 Phoenix children.
From a news article (approx 1953):
"An Italian sculptor has used the composite features of 28 Phoenix school children in carving a statue of St Agnes. It all came about because the statue was ordered for the new St Agnes church at 23rd St and Palm Lane. Msgr Robert J. Donohoe, church pastor ordered the statue from the Da Prato studios in Chicago. ...The statue of Bottichino marble has been placed in a niche of the new church. St Agnes was canonized ... in the year 325 AD"
The Main Bell (in the Bell Tower) was consecrated on September 20, 1953. It weighs over two tons and was given the title, "Gabriel". The Angelus is rung three times daily automatically. Other rings are controlled from the priests' sacristy.
... RAISED IN THIS TOWER IN GRATEFUL MEMORY INTO THE DESERT SKY WITH CHRIST'S CROSS HELD ALOFT THAT ALL MAY SEE IN THESE DARK DAYS THE ONLY WAY TO PEACE. (UNKNOWN PARISHIONER)