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Parish History

    It was 1944.  A war raged in Europe and Asia. Young Americas were fighting and dying on foreign soil.  Catholics in the rural communities of North and East Brunswick trekked to their parish church in Milltown, Our Lady of Lourdes, to celebrate Mass and pray for peace.  Maybe it was for convenience or because of gas rationing, or maybe it was a sense of community in the neighborhoods of Patrick’s Corner and Maple Meade that prompted Marie Urban to request the establishment of a mission in that area.  Her request was granted through the good offices of then Bishop William Griffin.

    On Palm Sunday, Mass was celebrated in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Casimir Walus on Riva Avenue. A month later a small bungalow on Church Lane was rented and converted into a Chapel – The Chapel of Our Lady of Peace – as a tribute to those serving their country and in memory of those who lost their lives in the war.

    The bungalow was but temporary quarters.  This fledgling community set about finding property for a more permanent structure.  Then Mayor Fred Hermann of North Brunswick suggested a site on Route 130 that was being sold at a tax sale. The present property was purchase in that manner for $350.00.  With a campaign goal of $10,000, pews from a Baptist church, and altar rail from a Catholic church , a Protestant handmade altar, donated materials and much labor and sweat by the parishioners, a permanent Chapel slowly and lovingly took shape.  On Pentecost Sunday in May have 1947, the first Mass was offered by Father Charles LaCavera, the curate at Our Lady of Lourdes assigned to this mission.

Along U.S. Route 130, Back from the road apiece;
Stands the Little Mission Chapel of Our Lady of Peace.
It is Neither marble’d nor mural’d, Nor gothic in design;
But when you kneel and pray within Its not unlike a shrine.
(Excerpts from a poem by Parishioner Jerome F. Grattan.)

    This shrine served the spiritual needs of the people well over twenty years.  But more than that, it nurtured a community growing in numbers and growing apart from its mother parish in Milltown.  In 1951, for the first time, Our Lady of Peace celebrated its own First Communion with eight communicants.  And the following year, twenty three youths received the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, the first and only such ceremony to take place in the life of that Chapel.

    Yet even while the Chapel was being built, the people of Our Lady of Peace had a vision;

Oh, someday we’ll be a parish, And when that comes to be,
This “Cathedral on the Highway” Will be just history.
For in its place will stand a Church, Beautiful and large
And some fine priest the Bishop picks Will be the one in charge.
(Excerpts from a poem by Parishioner Jerome F. Grattan.)

    And that came to pass in the fall of 1969.  By then the six or seven families that formed the first congregation had grown to five hundred.  The population of North Brunswick had swelled from a sparsely settled community of 6,450 in 1950 to almost 17,000 residents.  Bishop George W. Ahr created the Parish of Our Lady of Peace and named Father Joseph Mizerak as its first pastor.  Father Mizerak and his new parishioners immediately set their sights on a church to replace the Shrine that could no longer serve their needs.  By early 1971, plans had been drafted for a church and all-purpose center and a fund raising campaign got underway. 

    However, the dream of a church was to be denied the parishioners.  After assessing the final plans, the cost involved and the fiscal condition of the parish, the Bishop determined that the proposal was not feasible and approved the construction of a parish center only.  Ground was broken on March 11, 1973.  The first Mass was celebrated in the new structure on March 4, 1974. All that remained of the Little Mission Chapel was its one stained glass window and the statues of Our Lady and Saint Joseph which were enshrined in the new center. 
Nevertheless, the dreams and intense desires of the people of Our Lady of Peace for a church of worship have never died. These dreams and desire are stronger today than ever and the need for a church is even greater as we grow in the 1990’s.  Under the leadership of Father John Polyak, and with the help and support of his parishioners, our church soon became a reality.

    As the Our Lady of Peace Parish continued to grow and mature, we were continuously reminded of that long felt desire to have a real church to meet the spiritual needs of our parish community. 

    With permission from Bishop Hughes to explore the possibility of building a new church, Father John appointed a Parish Steering Committee and conducted a parish survey to ascertain feelings and opinions of our parishioners concerning the right time to proceed with a building campaign.  Ninety percent of the parishioners who responded agreed that we needed a new church now ..  a traditional church for weddings, baptisms and funerals ..  a special place for worship.

    Based on that clear mandate, the Parish Steering Committee proceeded with the development of plans to build a new church.  This committee, consisting of eleven members, acted in a consultative capacity to Father John in planning and implementing the church we have today!