In the New Dorp section of Staten Island, dedicated clergy, staff and parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Peace have been commemorating the parish’s 100 years, and remembering the importance of “looking at life in the spirit in which God intended.”
Cardinal Dolan celebrated a Centennial Mass June 18. The cardinal, in his homily, spoke about the significance of the Eucharist and of continuing one’s spiritual journey, especially in these difficult times.
“This is a spiritually boosting experience for the parish community, celebrating the 100 years,” Father Dominic Thomas, M.C.B.S., the parish’s pastor, told CNY last week, noting the gratitude he and parishioners felt having the cardinal celebrate the parish centennial.
Father Thomas said he hopes that in the coming months and years all parishioners join the Church in focusing more on the true meaning of the Eucharist, its significance as the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ.
Dedicated parishioners include many involved in the Holy Name Society, the Ladies Guild, Eucharistic ministry and the Charismatic movement, Father Thomas said, noting the commitment from caring volunteers “who visit the homebound and people in the hospital for their Eucharistic needs, their spiritual needs.”
“The parish is a welcoming community, always a sharing community,” the pastor noted. “Once a month we have a Healing Mass, and we have all kinds of devotions, including to Our Lady Queen of Peace, of course.”
Father Thomas, born and raised in India, has been pastor at Our Lady Queen of Peace since 2018. He belongs to the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. Father Sujan Joseph, M.C.B.S., is parochial vicar. Deacon Tom Finnerty also serves the parish.
The parish, located at 90 Third St., has more than 1,500 registered households.
Our Lady Queen of Peace School, established in 1922, is a Pre-K to 8 school, with an enrollment of 325 students. Margaret O’Connor is the principal.
Barbara Orleman is religious education coordinator.
The parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace and Our Lady of Lourdes began after Catholic residents of New Dorp petitioned the archdiocese for their own priest, according to a parish history. Cardinal Patrick Hayes selected Father John J. Hopkins to establish the parish in the summer of 1922.
Father Hopkins brought a vision for the local Catholic community before he first encountered the area’s farmland and traveled down a dirt road called New Dorp Lane. His vision included a church and school.
The Black Horse Tavern became the site of the first Masses celebrated. The tavern was owned by Patrick Curry, who agreed to close his tavern at midnight on Saturday nights, and his family members arranged for a curtain to shield a portion of the room “from the area that had little to do with worship,” in preparation for the only Sunday Liturgy.
Father Hopkins later negotiated with the Grout family, whose home was on Cloister Place and Third Street, and whose property flowed around the corner onto New Dorp Lane. The Grout home became the rectory and the wooded land became the site of the church and school. On Oct. 10, 1922, Father Hopkins incorporated his new church.
When the federal government then converted the estate of William A. Vanderbilt into an air defense station and announced its intention to clear the estate of all buildings, Father Hopkins arranged for a wooden chapel located on the estate to be lifted and moved up New Dorp Lane.
On weekdays, the chapel was filled with children attending grades 1 to 4, as Our Lady Queen of Peace School was established.
Father Hopkins purchased property on Cedar Grove Avenue for $3,000, and set into motion the eventual laying of the cornerstone and dedication of Our Lady of Lourdes, the mission church of Our Lady Queen of Peace.
From the beginning, Father Hopkins dreamed of an English Gothic church on New Dorp Lane, and the cornerstone was set on Sept. 26, 1928, with the blessing by Cardinal Hayes. Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in 1928 marked the inauguration of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church.
Father Hopkins invited the Presentation Sisters to assume administration of the parish school.
The parish later experienced a building modernization, rendering an impressive complex of structures that remain in service today. The new facilities were dedicated on July 7, 1963, by the Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Pernicone.
The fund-raising efforts of a dedicated clergy and a faithful community had produced a school, with cafeteria, a chapel in the level of the main church, a convent and church hall in the convent’s lower level.
Dan Clifford, 75, the parish council president and a longtime parishioner, is married with three daughters and five grandchildren. Clifford, noting the impacts of the pandemic, praised the Centennial Mass.
“This is hopefully a starting point in bringing all of our parishioners back to full attendance at our Masses,” he said.