KANSAS CITY — Father George Ssebadduka, administrator of Our Lady of Peace Parish, invites all current and former parishioners and clergy of Our Lady of Peace and former parishioners and clergy of St. Michael the Archangel, Holy Trinity, St. Stanislaus and St. Stephen’s parishes to Our Lady of Peace Homecoming Festival Oct. 6.
“We are planning the homecoming festival to be a celebration of parish history,” Father George said. “The traditions of many communities formed Our Lady of Peace.”
The homecoming will celebrate the past, and the richness of cultures that make up the parish today, he added. “The food, the music and dancing will reflect the variety of backgrounds in our parish.”
Oct. 6 will be a good time to celebrate, Father George said. “The weather should be nice, and the Memorial of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is Oct. 7. We want to celebrate also the connection between our parish and Our Lady.”
Our Lady of Peace Homecoming opens at 9 a.m., with tours of the church. “We want our current and former parishioners and clergy to see again the beauty of the church,” Father George said. “Perhaps descendants of the families who donated the stained glass windows will come. We’d love to have them.”
Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m., followed by the homecoming festival from Noon – 7 or 8 p.m. Tickets for food will cost $5, and raffle tickets are $10 each. The grand prize of the raffle is a 46” HD TV, and many other prizes can be won, including an iPad. There will be music and dancing, reflecting the traditions of parish families — Hispanic, Polish, and others. Proceeds will benefit and support the parish and help it meet obligations, Father George said.
Our Lady of Peace was formed by the consolidation of St. Stephen’s, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Stanislaus and Holy Trinity parishes at the St. Stephen’s site in 1991. The four parishes that went before served for many years. The first established, St. Stephen’s, was also the largest in area.
It was canonically established in 1888 by Bishop John J. Hogan, on land purchased on a Missouri River Bluff at Washington Park Blvd., (about 4th Street) in the northeast corner of the city. He named the chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital at 7th and Pennsylvania, as founding pastor; he would visit the new parish twice a week.
Nearby, Holy Trinity Parish was established in early 1889.
St. Stephen’s parishioners built a two-story frame church and school in 1888-89, and the congregation became a parish.
By Nov. 1889, Holy Trinity parishioners had purchased land and built a two story frame building to serve as a church and pastor’s residence.
Several Sisters of Mercy opened a school in 1901. It was called Holy Trinity but was not connected with the parish. Classes were held in an old mansion, which the city condemned in 1905. The Sisters accepted an offer to teach at the new St. James School.
Holy Trinity Parish was divided in 1902, and a new parish north of Independence Ave. established. The new parish was named Holy Cross.
St. Michael the Archangel Parish was established in May 1906 at the request of Catholic families in the area. Bishop Hogan chose the name St. Michael the Archangel. Parishioners set to work building a church after they got off work, sometimes working until 2 a.m. While the church was under construction, Mass was celebrated in a frame building on the site. The church was useable by September, although it had no windows or doors yet.
Sisters of Mercy opened St. Michael’s School in 1908 in two rooms built onto a corner of the church.
The frame Holy Trinity Church/school caught fire in 1909, and was nearly destroyed. The following year, a newly constructed church was completed. School reopened with Sisters of Mercy coming over daily from St. Agnes Academy.
Polish immigrants arrived from New York to work at the American Radiator Company in 1910 and again in 1912. Wanting a parish of their own, they requested Bishop Thomas Lillis establish one. In summer 1913 he appointed a pastor to shepherd St. Stanislaus Parish. The congregation celebrated Mass in St. Stephen’s Parish Hall.
St. Stephen’s frame church served the parish until 1913, when it was destroyed by fire. A roof was built over the basement and Mass was celebrated in it for about 3 years. In 1916, work began on a new church, using parish volunteers. Materials were purchased only when funds were available. Construction took 5 years. In 1919 the cornerstone was laid.
The stained glass windows were crafted in Munich, Germany, and feature images of the rosary’s Joyful and Glorious Mysteries as well as some scenes of Christ’s life.
St. Stanislaus Parish began building its own church in 1915. The foundations were laid and the walls beginning to rise when dissension among parishioners started. The original plans were changed and the parish built a combination church and school.
Also in 1915, a stone St. Michael’s church was built. The old church became the school.
Holy Trinity Parish suffered a few bad years at the end of the decade. In 1917, the church and school were destroyed by a fire caused by faulty wiring. The parish rented a dance hall for Masses and school. Despite those efforts, parishioners drifted away to either St. Aloysius or Holy Cross parishes.
The arrival of a new pastor in 1918 changed the downturn. He surveyed the situation and decided the solution was a new school. By 1919, the new Holy Trinity School was built holding classes for 100 children taught by Sisters of Mercy from St. Agnes Academy.
From 1919-1925, Holy Trinity parish used the school’s second floor as the church.
Nearby, the new St. Stephen’s Church still needed interior work to be completed, but was dedicated and the first Mass celebrated at 6 a.m., Dec. 25, 1921.
Holy Trinity parish broke ground for its new church in 1925. The new building was consecrated in 1926. Bishop Lillis described the church as a “bit of heaven on earth.”
In the 1950’s, many Hispanic families and, in the turmoil following World War II, displaced persons from Europe, found friends and homes in St. Stephen’s Parish and were brought into the life of the community.
A new school was built in 1959 for both St. Stephen’s and St. Stanislaus parishes.
St. Michael’s Church was remodeled during the 1960s.
In 1970, a diocesan planning committee determined that six northeast area schools would be better served by merging into the Northeast Consolidated Catholic School, with the lower campus at Assumption School and the upper at St. Stephen’s. St. Michael’s, St. Stanislaus, Holy Trinity and St. Francis Seraph schools were closed. St. Stanislaus had merged into St. Stephen’s School in 1961. Holy Trinity Parish had built a new school in 1957, but in the merger, the building was not used. It was eventually sold to Kansas City Parks and Recreation. St. Michael’s School was torn down. Brighton Place Apartments and Nowlin Hall senior housing were built. Both are now run by Catholic Charities.
Holy Trinity’s St. Joseph’s Table became an annual event in 1974. The 1980s saw the advent of multicultural parish celebrations, including Cinco de Mayo, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Mexican dinner fundraisers at St. Stephen’s and Holy Trinity.
In 1984, Assumption Parish withdrew from Northeast Consolidated Catholic School. St. Stephen’s housed both campuses, and its name changed to St. Stephen’s Academy.
The following year, St. Stephen’s Church and rectory were designated Historic Landmarks by the KC Landmark Commission, in part because the church was built by parishioners and, according to the Ordinance of Designation, “the buildings convey a strong sense of neighborhood commitment and identity.”
In 1989, Holy Trinity Parish celebrated its centennial.
In 1990, a diocesan planning committee took into consideration neighborhood demographic changes and the priest shortages and the four neighboring parishes were merged into one, at the St. Stephen site. Parishioners voted for the new parish’s name — Our Lady of Peace. The new parish was dedicated and opened in February 1991.
Father George looks forward to “welcoming home” former parishioners of St. Michael’s, St. Stephen’s, Holy Trinity and St. Stanislaus, as well as current parishioners.
For further information, please contact Father George Ssebadduka, (816) 231-0953.