Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church**Photo from a 1940′s postcard, courtesy of Henry Fletcher.
In 1913, Father Felix Ullrich, Benedictine priest from St. Leo Abbey, celebrated the first Mass offered in Western Pasco County in the home of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Casey, located on Washington Street. The Caseys’ dining room table was used as an altar, and Mrs. Casey dressed it in her finest linens for the important occasion. There were only three Catholic families in the area at the time.
On March 9, 1919, a small frame church on Washington Street was dedicated. Father Felix was the first Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish. By this time, there were seven Catholic families in town.
In 1921, a hurricane knocked down the church which was rebuilt. Father Felix took up residence in New Port Richey after the storm, and a rectory was built next to the church in 1922. By this time there were 13 families in the parish.
The Rosary Altar Society was organized, with Mrs. Frank (Mary) Grey as its first president. The parish hall on Washington Street was completed on June 20, 1921.
In 1963, 10 acres of land were purchased on Highway 19 South, the site of Our Lady’s present church and parish center. In September of that year, Father Michael Leap, O.S.B., was appointed pastor. The new church was formally dedicated on Sunday, January 15, 1967.
During the next decade, the parish outgrew its ability to handle the expanding Catholic population. Four more parishes now flourish in the area.
The parish was under the care of the Benedictine Fathers from 1913 until Father A. Foynes, a Diocesan priest, was appointed pastor in 1975.
In 1980, the new parish center was opened. The church was reconstructed in 1987 and was dedicated by Bishop W. Thomas Larkin on April 17, 1988, as parishioners celebrated their 75th Anniversary.
This is another story of a mustard seed: three families in 1913 and Mass on the dining room table, “which Mrs. Casey dressed in her finest linens.”*History information provided by the Diocese of St. Petersburg.