W.P. Catholic church marking centennial
By Daylina Miller | Suncoast NewsNEW PORT RICHEY - Though tucked away on a side street off U.S. 19, Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church is no stranger to the community. More than 2,000 West Pasco residents are members of the parish, which is celebrating 100 years of worship in 2013.
Published: February 20, 2013
Published: February 20, 2013
The inaugural Mass at West Pasco's first Roman Catholic parish was held in 1913 at the home of James H. Casey on Washington Street. The three lone Catholic families in the area at the time attended the Mass, which was celebrated by the Rev. Felix Ullrich, a Benedictine priest from Saint Leo Abbey.
In March 1919, a small church on the same street was dedicated. A hurricane destroyed the church in 1921, and it was rebuilt with a rectory. By 1963, 10 acres of land were purchased on U.S. 19 South and the church was formally dedicated in January 1967. Other parishes were established in the area to handle the growing Catholic population.
The new parish center was opened in 1980 and then the church was reconstructed in 1987 and dedicated by Bishop W. Thomas Larkin in April 1988, as parishioners celebrated their 75th anniversary.
On Feb. 16, the Catholic community came together to celebrate 100 years since that first Mass, where the dining room table at the Caseys' home was used as an altar. The Knights of Columbus and members of the congregation marched from the church's fellowship hall up the stairs to the church, where every pew was filled.
Overflow seating was offered back at the hall where a large, overhead screen projected a live view of the Mass.
The Mass wasn't the church's first celebratory event and it won't be the last. Activities will be held through Jan. 14, 2014, to celebrate 100 years since the first Mass.
"It's primarily to celebrate and develop further sense of community and family," said the church's centennial leadership chair, Carol M. Keyes. "Many families who are involved in other congregations are returning to visit. It's joyful to see people worship and have fellowship together and to remember to plan ahead for the future of the church."
Some of the congregation's members are ancestors of the original families, Keyes said. Mrs. Casey, whose house was used for the first Mass, was the aunt of current member Frank Grey's grandmother. Grey has been a member of the congregation for 58 years.
"It's exciting," Grey said. "We told our youngest son this (centennial celebration) is unlikely to happen again in his lifetime."
Bishop Robert N. Lynch, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, celebrated Saturday's Mass with the Rev. Sebastian Earthedath, the church's pastor, giving thanks to the congregation afterward. A fellowship with cookies and drinks was then held at the church's hall.
"This only comes once in a lifetime and I'm proud to be a part of this great celebration," Earthedath said.
A Gala dinner and dance was held Feb. 8 at Spartan Manor to help raise funds for a year of festivities.
Another centennial Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. March 9 at Peace Hall, near Orange Lake, the congregation's restored former sanctuary. A concert featuring Desert Rain Band and Act One 5 will be held afterward at 6:30 p.m.
March 14-17, a Centennial Carnival will be held at the church, 5340 High St.
For a list of centennial events, visit the church's website, www.centennial.lady queenofpeace.org.
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