Columbus Day, falling in the middle of Italian-American Heritage Month, seems as good a time as any to reflect on the generosity and foresight of the benefactors and founders of the Church of Our Lady of Peace. In addition to many Italians donors, there were O'Keefes, O'Connors, McCormicks, Fitzpatricks, and other Irish names carved into the two stone panels mounted inside the front doors of the church.
Teresa Iacavone tops the list of benefactors who raised money to build the parish. Her $1000 donation would be worth about $20,000 today. The minimum contribution listed was $50, equivalent to about $1000 today. Innocenzo Scudellari, $600; Filippo Leone, $500; Carmine De Gasero, $600; Nicola Morisco, $500; Andrea Carobine, $500; and famiglie Vignali, Pirotta, Giuffrida, Pioli, Luzardi - the list goes on. The donations of the benefactors and founders on the two stone panels combined would be worth approximately $340,000 now. For many immigrants, these donations were a sacrifice.
In 1922, the main altar and communion rail were added and two side chapels were built. The one on the left was dedicated to the Madonna Di San Marco and was the gift of a single parishioner. The one on the right, dedicated to the Madonna di Romitello, was funded by the people from Borgetto, Sicily.
"Our Lady of Peace was our family's parish going back almost 100 years ago," wrote petitioner James Taormina of New York. "My father was baptized there in 1924 and I was also baptized there. My grandparents came from Borgetto with many others from that town. Their devotion to the Madonna di Romitello is evidenced by the painting and the stained glass window in the side chapel. It would be a shame to lose this connection to the Italian immigrants who came here and made this parish a central part of their community."
"It would be so sad to close Our Lady of Peace," said Catherine Rappa Andreuzzi of New York. "I was baptized at Our Lady of Peace. My parents were the immigrants that started the church. The Madonna di Romitello appeared in the town where my parents were from."
"Please honor the many immigrants who sacrificed to keep this church going in hard times," wrote Elizabeth Lubinger, who now lives in Florida. "Let Our Lady of Peace always grace and serve this neighborhood."