IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Our Lady of Peace Church in Lakeland

On the occasion of the parish’s 50th anniversary, Father Joseph Clemente, Deacon John Bowden and Pastoral Council 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee members Ed Weber, Lori Rolince, Cheryl Michalski, Joe Mingin, Marie Iadanza and Paula Praskey share the story of Our Lady of Peace Church.

Q Tell us about the faith community at Our Lady of Peace.

A The seed for the establishment of Our Lady of Peace Church began between 1909 and 1935, when there was a steady population growth in the Lakeland area of Syracuse and a need for a Catholic Church in the community. A proposal was made to build a chapel to serve the Lakeland Catholic community. The chapel built on Stasko Drive was a mission of St. Cecilia’s Church. The mission began on Sept. 5, 1935 and continued until June 10, 1949, when Our Lady of Peace was incorporated. On Feb. 23, 1951 a fire damaged the church. Masses were temporarily held at the Lakeland School and church hall after the fire, while the men of the parish and the Holy Name Society worked to restore the church.

   On Feb. 14, 1964 Our Lady of Peace experienced a second fire, which completely destroyed the church. A new brick church and rectory were built on Halcomb Street, approximately one block away from the original church and rectory.

   After the fire, there was a sense of great loss in the Lakeland community, as Our Lady of Peace Church was, and to this day still is, the hub of activity for the Lakeland area, providing a place of worship, religious societies and community activities.

   The parishioners in the small Lakeland community rallied and worked together to build the new church. During this time, Masses were held at the Lakeland School, the NY State Fairgrounds, and weather permitting, in a tent on the church grounds. The new church was dedicated on Nov. 14, 1965. It was an expensive undertaking for the parish. The interior of the church built in 1964-1965 was never completely finished. The interior of the church was finally completed for Christmas 1997.

   The parishioners of Our Lady of Peace have had to adapt to many changes throughout their history: fires, death of pastors, financial struggles and hard times in an uncertain economy. We are a strong faith-based parish that unites in time of need, takes great pride in its church and surrounding community, and worships together in the beautiful church built by our members, which many refer to as their “second home.”

   We live our mission — “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:18-20a) — by providing a place of worship in a spiritual and welcoming environment, with an emphasis on adult initiation and faith formation and to spread the word by evangelization.

Q What makes OLP unique?

A Today, many of the pioneering families or their family members remain in Our Lady of Peace’s community. Many of the long-time parishioners, newer families and children of our youth group tirelessly devote their time and talents to the church’s ministries:

• Liturgical Ministry: Composed of a strong-faith based group of lectors, sacristans, Eucharistic Ministers, altar servers, ushers who work side-by-side with Father Clemente and Deacon John Bowden in worship and celebration of the Mass.

• Music Ministry: Under the direction of Betty Hommel to lead our choir and musicians in the celebration of Masses, prayer services and special occasions.

• Pastoral Council: Our Pastoral Council is composed of members from the linked Parishes of Our Lady of Peace and St. Cecilia. Together the council advises and assists Father Clemente in fulfilling the needs of our linked parishes.

• Holy Name Society: Men of the parish called to contribute to the evangelization mission of the church by volunteering their time and talents, and encouraging all men of the linked parishes to have an active role in ministry and evangelization.

• Altar & Rosary Society: Encourages devotion to Our Lady through recitation of the rosary. Provides altar linens, cleaning and care of the altar and sanctuary, and contributes financially through fundraising and social functions to the parish when there is a need or desire.

• Human Development Committee: Provides our parish with an avenue to reach out and serve our neighbors in need and to meet any emergency that arises. Provides Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter food baskets.

• Lazarus Committee: Provides care to families in times of loss. Provides the funeral luncheon in Nazareth Hall.

• Sandwich Ministry: Community Outreach Program of making sandwiches to be donated to Assumption Church Soup Kitchen. Volunteers meet twice a month to make sandwiches. Each time they meet, more than 700 sandwiches are made and delivered to Assumption Church Soup Kitchen.

• Rosary Makers: Meets on a monthly basis to make rosaries to donate to Missions, individuals, groups or other organization.

• Kids for Christ Youth Group: Promotes a ministry to our youth to develop a sense of faith. Instills values such as service to church, community and fellowship.

OLP is marking its 50th anniversary. What does this anniversary mean to and for the parish? What do you envision for the next 50 years?

A By the grace of God, our parish and church building has been established as a place of worship, fellowship and community for generations. After the fire in 1964 destroyed our church, there was a great sense of loss. However, our parishioners rallied together and supported each other and the community. They did not give up and see the fire as the end; instead, it was a new beginning. Many people played an integral role in the building of our new church in 1964 to 1965, the building blocks and cement that formed the foundation of the parish we are today. With great pride and enjoyment, our parishioners work together to host dinners, picnics, fundraisers and social events to bring our Lakeland community together in fellowship. Many answer the calling in service to God, church and community.

   On the joyous occasion of the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Our Lady of Peace Church building, we celebrate the many people who have come and gone from us over the past 50 years and the many people who are carrying on the traditions. We are thankful for what each one has contributed to our church.

   Over the next 50 years, we see ourselves as a parish growing in faith, worship, adult initiation and evangelization in unity with the Pastoral Care Area 4 West Parishes.

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