FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Updated 6:00 p.m. 4/25/2015
Parishioners of Our Lady of Peace Church on East 62nd Street in Manhattan, who rallied with the New York City Mass Mob in January and whose appeal to the Vatican to save the church is now under review, want to celebrate their parish centennial in 2018. But while the church remains on the list that the Archdiocese of New York intends to close by August 2015, they are not waiting.
Instead, parishioners are gaining support from Italian American leaders and searching for descendants of the original benefactors, whose names and the amounts they gave are carved in marble in the vestibule - immigrants who donated to build the church and intended it to last for posterity and future generations.
On Sunday, April 26, starting at 11:30 a.m., parishioners will hold a procession accompanied by the FDNY EMS Pipes and Drums, FDNY Columbia Association, and the Patriot Brass Ensemble, through the landmarked Treadwell Farm Historic District where the church is located. A Founders’ Day Mass and Italian Heritage Celebration to honor the first families of Italian immigrants will immediately follow.
Italians immigrants overcame discrimination, relegated to worship in the basements of other churches in New York City in the early 20th Century. Italians in the Upper East Side enclave were treated no differently, until Father Philip Leone raised the necessary funds from the first Italian parishioners and his Irish American friends to purchase the church. Originally called Madonna della Pace, it was named in honor of the peace that ended the First World War.
"The anniversary of Our Lady of Peace give us reason to reflect on a legacy worth preserving," said John Calvelli, Executive Vice President and Chair of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Leadership Council. "Italian Americans and their community-oriented approach to religion laid the foundation for a very special house of worship. The church fosters a unique commitment and cohesiveness among its parishioners. They are uniquely dedicated to their faith, good works, and to Our Lady of Peace as a source of inspiration."
"I am proud to be part of the team researching the founders, benefactors, and first families of Our Lady of Peace,” said Tami Ellen McLaughlin, Friends of OLP Special Events Chair. “I have met descendants who are just heartbroken about the future of the church that their ancestors founded almost 100 years ago. I have a whole new appreciation for and devotion to my church because of this.”
The church was dedicated in April 1919, in a ceremony that included a similar procession through the neighborhood. On April 26, parishioners will walk in their ancestors’ footsteps, carrying their images through the streets where they lived and played, worked and worshipped, and hoping to save their church.
“The Founders Day Celebration planned for Our Lady of Peace Parish is a wonderful community action that brings the Catholic faith community and their friends together in solidarity to proclaim the vital place Our Lady of Peace is for the Archdiocese and the neighborhood,” said Sister Kate Kuenstler of Canon Law Ministries. “Our Lady of Peace Parish is built upon the faith of so many generations of immigrants who have made New York City and Our Lady of Peace Parish what it is today. This is a way to remember, celebrate, and believe in the value of a future for this beloved parish.” Kuenstler represented the parishioners of Our Lady of Peace in their appeal to the Vatican.
The Church of Our Lady of Peace, located at 239 East 62nd Street, Manhattan, New York, built in 1887, is the architectural anchor of the Treadwell Farm Historic District, designated by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 1967, and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
- Procession: Line up 11:30 a.m. in front of the church. Procession will move east on 62nd Street to the corner of 2nd Avenue, turn south on 2nd Avenue, then west on East 61st Street, turn right on 3rd Avenue, cross the street at East 62nd Street, continue east on East 62nd Street into the church. New York City Councilmember Dan Garodnick is expected at 11:30 a.m.
- Press Conference: Invited Guests at 12:00 noon on the church steps:
Manhattan Borough President, Gale A. Brewer;
Deputy Consul of Italy, Ms. Isabella Periotto;
Joseph Sciame, Chair of The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations;
Parishioners and Descendants of Founders of Our Lady of Peace who participated in the Vatican appeal.
- Founders Mass: Celebrated at 12:30 in the afternoon immediately following the Procession.
- Celebration of Italian Heritage: Immediately following the Mass in the Church Hall.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Janice Dooner Lynch at (646) 244-9670 or Tami Ellen McLaughlin at (646) 942-0234.
Commemorative postcard designed by Joseph Leone with photographs courtesy of the Merlini-Chaplin, Guatelli-Dooner, Giacopino-Landells, Nicolazzi-Ponzini Families. All rights reserved.