Our Lady of Peace

OLP Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church

May 18, 2017 | Posted in News

This past Monday, May 15th, Our Lady of Peace Church celebrated the 40th Anniversary of her Dedication. We were fortunate to have Bishop Lawrence Persico present with us at Mass, as well as Msgr. Charles Kaza giving a special homily. Msgr. Kaza shared many stories and memories of his time at OLP. You can enjoy his special message below.

40th Anniversary of the Dedication of Our Lady of Peace - Homily given by Msgr. Charles Kaza

My thanks to Fr. Toohey and you the people of OLP for your kind invitation to join you for this special celebration. Although It has been 39 years since I was transferred from here across town to St. John's, my 6 years with you still holds a special place in my heart and have been a tremendous influence on the gift of priesthood that I continue to enjoy.

When I arrived here in 1972 as a newly-ordained priest, I came with experience of parish life from SS. Cosmas and Damian in Punxsutawney. A church, grade school, high school, rectory, convent. Presuming that I would find something similar here...It was not to be.

By 1972, you had already experienced three major building programs: A 16 classroom school, an addition of 8 classrooms with the activities room, and a gymnasium. I just missed the mortgage burning of the gym. Five years later, we would celebrate the completion of the church, offices, and rectory within a short but demanding 22 years of festivals, dinners, lots of cash, monthly 50-50's, and the Cadillac Balls; the brick and mortar of what was a dream of our founding pastor with the founding members was complete. For those of us who had any part to play in this experience, we were schooled/formed in the story of OLP at least 3-4 times a year, usually, before each fundraiser and capital campaign. Fr. Daily was given the land and a half-finished house for a rectory...that was it. Mass at McDowell auditorium, rectory basement, the cafeteria, and gym - A people of faith was gradually being formed even though they had no permanent church building.

The word of God that we just heard speaks of our roots as God's people. Acts reminded us that "the Most High does not dwell in buildings made by human hands." Ephesians teaches us that we, as living stones, form a building on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone. And Jesus reassures us that it's on the rock of our confession of faith in him that our church, this parish, continues to be built.

Aware that this beautiful church was dedicated in May, it was a very cold, snowy February Saturday morning in 1977 that we celebrated the last Mass in the gym. At the end of that Mass, Fr. Daily gave each of us something to carry over to the church; he carried the Blessed Sacrament. We processed through the snow, the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the tabernacle, and the sanctuary lamp lighted and still burns to this day.

One of the pastoral programs that guided the founding pastor was the need to form a people...to help them invest in and take ownership of a vision and a long-range plan. He did it in a simple way - Sunday afternoon picnics in the yard. Pack a picnic lunch and gather in the open space. "If we are going to do this, we need to get to know each other" was his pastoral strategy. Pretty basic, fundamental. Today's words, like outreach, hospitality weren't in use at that time.

The people responded with great interest, generosity, and hard work, and lots of prayer, especially to the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Mother whose images grace the front of the church. It was the genuine, sincere devotion to the intercessory help of both the Sacred Heart and Blessed Mother that was credited for so many stages of success that made the vision into a reality.

Another defining characteristic of this young parish family grew out of those Sunday afternoon get-togethers. I can only call it pastoral presence and concern. The youthfulness of this family did not exempt you from the experiences of serious illness and a variety of personal or family tragedies - deaths of children, illness, accidents, fires, and the like. Many of them still stand out in my memory. Common to each of them was the immediate presence of the pastor (often before the emergency personnel) and quickly following him was the family of OLP standing ready to help and comfort.

The timing of the most recent edition of Faith Life magazine was perfect for our gathering this evening. Throughout our diocese, people who had established buildings and programs long before OLP are now transitioning to a new experience in church and parish identification. If we listen to their shared testimony, it rings clear with your past experience and present challenges common to all people of faith looking beyond simply buildings...allowing faith, nourished by prayer, especially the Holy Eucharist, our concern for one another, and our telling and handing on our story to our children one generation after another, especially through our Catholic school.

Fr. Daily was not known as a liturgist, but he concluded every list of general intercessions with the following petition: "In thanksgiving to almighty God for the many graces and blessings he has shared with us individually and as a parish family, we pray to the Lord." May such a spirit of gratitude and absolute confidence in the help of the Sacred Heart and Blessed Mother continue to define this parish family as you go forth from and return to this sacred space which was dedicated forty years ago today.