It was a brilliant, breezy spring day last Sunday. The perfect day for the Church Our Lady of Peace to celebrate Founders Day with more than 400 strong in a procession around the landmarked Treadwell Farms Historic District.
Led by FDNY Ladder 16 - Engine 39, which celebrates its 150th anniversary, the Patriot Brass Ensemble played hymns, the OLP Charismatic Prayer Group carried a statue of the Blessed Mother, and visitors from Vermont carried a huge painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They were followed by hundreds of parishioners wearing blue sashes - some that said third or fourth generation - with the names of the original benefactors who paid for the church during the First World War. The church that was named Madonna della Pace for the peace that ended that war. At every intersection, officers from NYPD 19th Precinct aided the procession by directing traffic and keeping the pedestrians safe.
For the descendants of the founders and benefactors of the church and the extended families of the first Italian and Irish immigrants, who carried placards decorated with images of their ancestors, the event was part joyous homecoming and part bittersweet, knowing that the Archdiocese of New York intends to close the church in August.
Parishioners were joined in solidarity at a press conference on the church steps by the Deputy Consul of Italy, Ms. Isabella Periotto; Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, a staunch preservationist; New York Council Member Dan Garodnick; and Joseph Sciame, Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations.
“When Our Lady of Peace opened its doors in 1919, many East Side immigrants found a spiritual sanctuary. This church has been a vital part of community life for Italian New Yorkers ever since,” MBP Brewer said. “It is my sincere hope that Our Lady of Peace will persevere to serve this community for another 100 years.”
The special Mass was celebrated by Monsignor John A. Ruvo, pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the Bronx, and concelebrated by the four priests who regularly serve at Our Lady of Peace. The list of names of the original donors and benefactors was read and prayers were said in their memory.
After the Mass, hundreds of people descended to the parish hall for an Italian feast, donated by local New York restaurants and markets, to continue the celebration.
For those who missed the event, a complete copy of the souvenir program can be downloaded here. Supporters are invited to write letters to the Vatican. Addresses are included in the program.
COMPLETE PRESS COVERAGE
Beloved Upper East Side church celebrates centennial four years early after announcement of closure
Manhattan Parish Fights for Survival - Parishioners at Our Lady of Peace appeal to Vatican to stop parish closure
Wall Street Journal
[Editorial Note: Links to press coverage of this event will be added to this page]