Part Ancestry, part Google, and part Facebook: It's the Our Lady of Peace version of Genealogy Road Show. Tracking down descendants of the original founders and benefactors, who wrote letters of support and signed the online petition to save the church, was a formidable task. Members of the special events team, organized by Tami Ellen McLaughlin, compared names against a list of Italian immigrants and Irish American friends of the first pastor - the people who contributed their hard-earned dollars so that Father Philip Leone could buy the church building in 1919.
The team gathered names from the pews, stained glass windows, and the marble tablets in the vestibule that are carved with the amounts that were donated. Then they searched for addresses and phone numbers - with only a name, a city, and a state - and gathered to address and affix special stamps on "Save the Date" postcards for the Founders' Day Procession, Mass, and Italian Heritage Celebration on Sunday, April 26.
"If I'm going to spend hours of my life doing anything, I would like to spend it doing work for my church,” said Ian, who is 12.
"One of the early founders was Teresa Iacovone, a local dressmaker who had a store in the area and donated $1,000 to help finance the building of the church—more than any other founder. Her donation would inspire both individuals and local businesses to follow suit so that by December 1918 Rev. Leone had raised enough funds to acquire the former Church of the Redeemer for $40,000."