The Church of Our Lady, Queen of Peace


Father Felix Ullrich

Our Lady Queen of Peace, the First 75 Years

In the six years since 1913, Mass was offered once a week on the day Father Felix could travel over from St. Leo Abbey. In 1918 - 1919, a small frame church was built with funds contributed by parishioners, local residents and the Catholic Extension Society. It was dedicated on March 9, 1919 and Father Felix was the first pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace parish. There were seven Catholic families in the town by this time.

A severe hurricane ripped through New Port Richey in September [should be October], 1921. Winds of 125 miles per hour or higher knocked the belfry of the new church to the ground and lifted the church from its foundation and set it down facing west. It had faced south. Father Felix was in the sacristy at the time and miraculously was unharmed. Glen Dill reported in the Suncoast News, "when Father Felix came out of the church to assess the damage, he remarked - 'Well, if that’s the way God wants it, we'll just have to leave it that way'." It was decided to rebuild the church minus the belfry. Father Felix took up residence in New Port Richey after the storm and a rectory was built next to the church in 1922. The attic was made into an apartment and rented out, to help provide revenue for the parish.

By this time there were thirteen families in the parish: Paul and Anna Thiel, William and Mary Casey, Mrs. Frank Grey, Joseph and Marie Weiskopf, Peter Kissel, Elizabeth Czaska, Mrs. Oscar Herms, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Roy, Mr. and Mrs. Peter DeCubellis, Angelo DeCubellis, Mr. and Mrs. Janvier DeCubellis, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lysek and Mr. and Mrs. Martin Van Poucke. The Rosary Altar Society was organized and held card parties and other activities to raise a few dollars to take care of the living expenses for Father Felix. Meetings were held at the home of the ladies. Mrs. Frank (Mary) Grey was its first president.

Generosity of celebrities vacationing in the area, including Tom and Jim Meighan, Gene Sarazen and Edna Wallace Hopper contributed toward the building of the Parish Hall on Washington Street, completed June 20, 1931. The building, 70 x 29 ft. with kitchen facilities, stage, and wood floor for dances seats 170 and was built at a cost of $1,128.39. The building is still in use today.

On January 6, 1932, Father Felix was appointed Spanish instructor at St. Leo College Preparatory School and was replaced by Father Paul Keegan, O. S. B., who was pastor until 1946. Father Maurus Cook, O. S. B., replaced Father Paul and during his four year stay, organized the first youth club in town, called the Teen Canteen. The club was open to all teenagers in the area and was chaperoned by members of various faiths. It met twice a week and was always supervised by Father Maurus.

Father Maurus left the parish in 1950 to re-enlist in the Marines. He was replaced by Father Gerard Brady, O. S. B., who stayed two years. Father Aloysius Dressman, O. S. B., served as pastor from 1952 to 1955, when he was recalled to St. Leo Abbey and was promoted to Prior, to assist the Abbot. During the next two years, Father Vincent Crawford, O. S. B., Father Bernard Weigl, O. S. B., Father Benedict Weigand, O. S. B., and Father Ignatius McCarty, O. S. B., each served a few months. In 1957, Father Aloysius Dressman returned to serve six more years for a total of nine.

In 1953, the year Father Felix died; Father Dressman promoted the construction of a shrine as a memorial to Father Felix’s memory. The shrine depicted Our Lady of Fatima as she appeared to the three small children tending their sheep in the mountain village of Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. The figures were of white marble carved by an Italian sculptor in Italy and brought here by freighter to New Orleans. The foundation was a community project, built by Protestants as well as Catholics. It was designed by a young man in his early 20’s named Wilson Cornell. The foundation and walls of the Shrine were of Coral Rock from the Milbauer Mines near Aripeka.

Paul Thiel, a stone mason and a parishioner, supervised the foundation work, and Leo Smith, another parishioner "donated" use of a concrete mixer he had been using to build a swimming pool on his own place. The lighting effects were donated by Wilburn Hoffman, a local resident but not a member of the church, while the telephone company, free of charge, hoisted the statue of the Virgin Mary, weighing nearly a ton onto its platform atop the Grotto.

Father Dressman often expressed his appreciation for the help given by the community ... "It was wonderful." The Grotto, when finished, drew many tourists to New Port Richey. People of all faiths stopped by to see it and offer a prayer, but Father Dressman was a bit reluctant to talk much about the shrine because the bishop had designated the shrine of Our Lady of La Leche in Saint Augustine as the place of pilgrimage for that Marian year. Father Dressman’s modesty aside, there was no gain saying the fact that many visitors continued to come here as well.

The attractive Grotto was the scene of much garish activity. Each year, on Memorial Day, an outdoor Mass was offered at the Grotto attended by members of veterans organizations, who then paraded through the streets of the town to mark the memory of those lost in the wars. Remains of the Grotto are still evident on the Washington Street church grounds but have fallen into disrepair and the ravages of vandalism since the church is no longer operational there. The buildings at Washington Street still hum with activity, used by Catholic and non-Catholic endeavours as well. Boy Scout troop #46 sponsored by Our Lady Queen of Peace Men’s Club, but made up of boys of all faiths, uses one of the cottages on the property as their club house. Father William Loesch Council #8155 Knights of Columbus uses Father Felix Hall for their meetings until such time as they gain occupancy of their own building on Allamanda Drive. Other Catholic action groups including S.O.L.V.E. use the old rectory as headquarters for their activities, all without charge, as does the St. Vincent de Paul Society... good community action use of the property.

In July 5, 1963, Father Dressman purchased ten acres of land in the southern end of the town, along U.S. 19 for $30,000. This became the site of our present church and parish center building.

That fall, Father Dressman suffered a detached retina in one eye, necessitating his retirement from the pastoral assignment at Our Lady Queen of Peace. He was replaced in September, 1963 by Father Michael Leap, O. S. B.

As the population of West Pasco County increased, so did church membership. Beginning in 1960, the Washington Street Church Hall was also used for Sunday Mass, seating upward of 200 people. The Cinema Theatre on Boulevard South (now the Richey Suncoast Theatre) was rented and three Masses were celebrated there each Sunday. All told, some 1,500 parishioners were served in this piecemeal manner. Indicative of the obvious bulge in membership at Our Lady Queen of Peace, a mission church was started in Hudson on October 25, 1965, later to become St. Michael’s parish.

With Father Leap’s assignment to replace Father Dressman came the directive to plan the construction of a new provisional church on the newly acquired property, to alleviate the inadequacy of the Washington Street facilities.

Father Leap’s tenure as pastor, which ended in 1975, capped a long and proud record of stewardship by the Benedictine Fathers, who nurtured the tiny parish into lusty growth. In all, eleven Benedictine Fathers administered the affairs of Our Lady Queen of Peace parish.

Father Michael Leap, O. S. B., was appointed pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace parish on September 1, 1963, replacing Father Dressman.

Father Leap came to us from Our Lady Queen of the Rosary Church in Land O' Lakes, where he had served the previous five years.

A native of Cassandra, Pennsylvania, he was enrolled at St. Bernard’s College until he entered the novitiate at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Belmont Abbey College in 1948. He was ordained in 1954 at St. Leo’s Abbey. The twelve years of Father Leap’s stewardship saw amazing growth of the parish. He worked at the Washington Street facilities striving mightily to serve his burgeoning parish with a tiny church seating less than 200 and a Church Hall seating 170. In 1964 he had the rectory building modernized, air conditioned and refurnished. It provided three bedrooms, one large and one small bath, a large living area, kitchen, porch, three offices and a carport. That building served as our priests' residence until July, 1983, when our new priest’s residence on High Street was dedicated.

On January 26, 1964, Archbishop Hurley granted permission to Father Leap to see to preparation of plans for a new "provisional" church ... "which the growing mission sorely needed."

Shown at right is the altar of the Washington Street church, decorated for a 25th Anniversary Mass for Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Grove. Father Leap, the celebrant, enters the altar from the sacristy door at the left.

The altar stone from this altar is now imbedded in the altar of our remodeled church. The crucifix and corpus above the altar are now displayed in a niche in the narthex of the new church, linking the old with the new. We are sentimental about the "roots" of our church. That is why we retained so much of what was so good in the provisional church we enjoyed for twenty years.

Plans for the provisional church were drawn up by Frank P. Patterson of Tampa and called for a structure 184 ft. x 57 ft. with a seating capacity of some 875, including a Parish Hall with kitchen facilities. The structure has reinforced concrete foundations, concrete floor slab on fill. Exterior walls are buff colored clay brick. Front portion of the building is pink crab orchard stone; wood laminated beams with double tongue and groove wood decking. Floors throughout are terrazzo and the ceilings, exposed wood decking. Cost to build: $182,000, including parking lot paving and sidewalks. Later, landscaping was accomplished by the parishioners.

Sunday, January 16, 1966, was the great day when ground breaking ceremonies for construction of the provisional church took place. Attorney Jim Altman, Master of Ceremonies, casts an approving eye on the shovel-work of Mrs. Frank E. Grey and Peter DeCubellis, oldest members of the parish as they turn the first shovelfulls, ably assisted by the Very Reverend Leo Schlosser, O. S. B., sub-prior of St. Leo Abbey. Lending pastoral approval are (left to right) Father Michael Leap, O. S. B., pastor; Father Jude Krogel, O. S. B., and Father Samuel Rimshaw, O. S. B., of the Abbey. Their shoveling was so good, construction was completed eight months later, on September 16, 1966. First Mass in the new church was celebrated by Father Leap on Sunday, October 16, 1966.

We can well imagine the joy of the parishioners at having such a roomy church at their disposal but all was not joyous ... those who had moved into the Washington Street area to be near the church now found it at a distance too long to traverse without a car. Solutions often create problems.

Even with its expanding facilities our parish outgrew its ability to handle the burgeoning Catholic population, and it became a "mother church" as additional missions and parishes were spun off. A new parish in Holiday, St. Vincent de Paul, was established, under the direction of father Joseph Beaumont. In 1971, the mission in the Hudson/Bayonet Point was established as a parish under the direction of Father George Malin, with St. Michael as its patron saint.

In June, 1975, Father Michael Leap was transferred and Father Aiden Foynes was appointed pastor. Father Leap’s farewell message to his parishioners succinctly noted a new course of administration in our parish ... "For the past 60 years, the Benedictine, Fathers of St. Leo Abbey have staffed Queen of Peace parish. Serving the people of this community has brought unlimited joy to myself and the other priests of St. Leo who have served here.

"Time has a way of changing many things. Time has changed the size of this parish from a small rural community into a large city, with two new parishes being formed from Queen of Peace in the past six years (St. Michaels and St. Vincent de Paul). Time now brings another change. As the population increases, demand for priests becomes greater. Since the community of St. Leo cannot supply the number of priests needed, the administration of this parish will come directly under the Bishop of St. Petersburg. This change will take place on Tuesday, June 10th when Father Aiden Foynes, from Espirito Santo parish in Safety Harbor, will assume the duties of pastor of Queen of Peace parish. The community of St. Leo joins with me in welcoming Father Foynes and prays he will find peace and contentment in serving this community." Thus ended the succession of Benedictine pastors at Our Lady Queen of Peace ... eleven in all.

Father Foynes' first assistants were Father Robert Fucheck, O. S. B., and Father Julius Piatkowski, who replaced Father William Loesch. In 1976, Father Eugene Ryan and Father Donald Baier, O. S. B., replaced them. We have since had Father Paul Lauers, Father Hilarin Lapinski, who, though retired, continues to help with Mass on busy weekends; Father Leo J. Martineau, who left us to become a chaplain in the U.S. Army-Airborne; then Father Brian Fennellon and Father John Helie and Father Michael Devine; Father Seamus Collins, Father Tom Madden and now Father Ray Gualtieri, Father Tom Connery, S.D.B., and Father Maurice A. Cunningham, M.Af.

And growth and development continues apace. In 1983, Father Foynes broke ground for a new priests' residence just across from the church, and purchased a residence just north of it to house visiting priests. In 1980, our handsome Parish Center was opened, built around a 450-seat great Hall, with a classroom wing and a rectory-office wing. It hums with activity and houses overflow Masses on weekends when our visitor population swells. A house on Shaw Street was purchased to serve as a residence for Sisters and a 2-bay garage and workshop was built to house parish equipment.

Our 75-year history has been remarkable and the story of our growth from 3 families in the parish to our present 2,500, in spite of the number of parishes which have grown out of our parish family startling. With our 100th Anniversary as our goal, speculation as to what will happen then will be interesting reading. Afraid I will not be around to write it!

There are reasons for growth such as ours. Some are thrust upon us by natural population movements and growth. We like to feel that we have earned some of it too. Ours is a dynamic parish, with vital organizations who accomplish things. We have leadership people, working in the community, putting into action the things our religion teaches us! We can take pride in being part of this exciting history of growth and service to our parishioners and our community.

Acknowledgement: Thank you Aimee Cassidy! For many years more than she is willing to admit, Aimee Cassidy of our Rosary Altar Society has been historian of Our Lady Queen of Peace parish. This account of the early history of our parish was gleaned from her voluminous records, without which we would have been unable to bridge the gap through the years to our beginnings. We are indebted to you, Aimee!

Your Editor

A Brief History of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church

This article was taken from the church web site in 2017.

The first Mass in the western part of Pasco County was celebrated in 1913 by Father Felix Ullrich, O.S.B., in the home of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Casey, who lived on Washington Street and Circle Boulevard, at that time the center of the town of New port Richey. The Casey’s dining room table was used for an altar and Ms. Casey dressed it in her finest linens for the important occasion. In the early day three families attended Mass, which was offered once a week on the day Father Felix could make the trip from St. Leo Abbey. Father Felix remained the priest-charge of this mission until 1932.

New Port Richey at the time of the First World War was a town of about 200 persons. Within a few years the few Catholic who lived there tried to build a church. Two lots were purchased on Washington and Second Streets, about three blocks from the center of town. With the aid of the Catholic Extension Society and through the efforts of Father Felix the building of a small frame church was started. On March 9, 1919, the church was ready and dedicated by Abbot Charles, Mohr, O.S.B., assisted by Father Felix, with Louis and Vincent Roy as altar boys. Mrs. Roy played the piano. This church was an attractive white frame building with a steep

Gable roof and a bell tower over the front entrance. It was built by Louis Lupine and a Mr. Copeland.

By 1920 there were seven Catholic families in the town.

In September 1921, a severe hurricane ripped through New Port Richey. The belfry of the church was knocked to the ground and the church itself was lifted from its foundations. While originally it faced Ohio Avenue, after the storm it faced Washington Street. Father Felix was in the sacristy at the time the storm struck and he was unhurt. It was decided to reinforce the foundation and to rebuild the church on the original site, but without the belfry.

Several additions were later made to increase the size of the church. By 1929 it had reached its present size, with seating capacity of 180. The sacristy now is carpeted in green with green drapery behind the altar. There is a large white Altar of Reservation and a smaller Altar of Sacrifice, both constructed of wood. A large wooden cru fix hangs above the high altar.

Father Felix took up permanent resident in New Port Richey shortly after the storm. The sacristy was his temporary home until a rectory was built next to the church in 1922. At this time there were thirteen Catholic families in the town, among whom we may name Paul and Anna Thiel, William and Mary Casey, Mrs. Frank Grey, Joseph and Anna Weiskopf, Peter Kissel, Elizabeth Czaska, Mrs. Oscar Hermes, and Mrs. Frances Roy, Mr. and Mrs. Peter DeCubellis, Mr. Angelo DeCubellis, Mr. and Mrs. Janivieeer DeCubelis, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lysek and Mr. and Mrs. Martin VanPoucke.

The first meetings of the Rosary Altar Society of the mission were held in the homes of the ladies. Mrs. Frank Grey was its first president. Card parties and other activities were organized to try to raise a few dollars to care of the living expenses of Father Felix.

A roof for a rectory was purchased April 10, 1922 and later the same year Louis Lupin constructed the rectory, and attached a story and a half frame house with a multi-gabled roof. The attic was made into an apartment and rented to help provide revenue for the parish.

There was a notable “Movie Colony” along the Cotee River in the 1920’s. Among the celebrities were Tom and Jim Meighan, the great golfer Gene Sarazen, and Edna Wallace Hopper. These visitors contributed generously toward the building of the parish hall, which today is a consoling source of income for the parish. Through the efforts of Mrs. Elizabeth Kissel, donations were received, and the hall was started on January 22, 1931. It was completed on June 20 of the same year. Some of the workmen were Peter Kissel, Paul Thiel, a Mr. Breslin, and others. The donations amounted to $1,209.97 and the cost of the building was $1,128.39.

This hall, a large white frame 70' x 29' building with green shingle roof is still in excellent shape today. It has kitchen families, a stage, a large wood floor for dances and other activities, and it is capable of seating 170 persons for Sunday Masses. It now has jalousie windows for added light and ventilation.

On January 6, 1932, Father Felix was appointed Spanish instructor at St. Leo College preparatory School and was replaced by Father Paul Keegan, O.S.B. Father Felix had spent nineteen years in the town, had gained many friends, and was well liked by both Protestants and Catholics. The following comments are taken from a recent history of the area: “There were clergymen in New Port Richey whey whose outstanding service and uplifting must come in our reflections of the past generation. Apart, in a sense, in their denominational affiliations, yet close in friendship were Father Felix of the Catholic Church and the Reverend B. M. Pack of the Baptist Church. They were loved by all, both Saint and Sinners, and fraternized in true Christian fellowship.” (Ralph Bellwood, Tales of West Pasco (Hudson, Florida: Albert J. Wakovec, 1962), 45). This gives some indications that the relationships between the few Catholics and the rest of the populations were amiable.

Father Paul remained in charge of the church in New Port Richey from 1932 until 1946.

During his tenure, on Palm Sunday, 1942, some boys were playing ball in the street in front of the church when suddenly they saw smoke pouring out of the church. Young Wilson Cornell and the other boys went into the rectory to wake Father Paul. Fortunately, the blaze was stopped before too much damage was done; only the rafters were scorched. The cause of the fire was defective wiring. Afterwards, the ladies of the mission raised funds to repair the damage and to repaint the interior.

In 1946 Father Maurus Cook, O.S.B replaced Father Paul. During his four years stay in New Port Richey Father Maurus organized the first youth club in the town which was called the Teen Canteen. This club, which was open to all tens of the town and was chaperoned by members of various faith, met about twice a week and was always supervised personally by Father Maurus. The priest personally built many of the pews now in use in the church.

In 1948 two lots were purchased across the street from the church. The land was swampy and it was filled in for use as a parking lot. Adjourning property, six lots, was secured by Michael Millbauer and it, too, is used for parking.

During the year 1953 to 1954, under the direction of Father Aloysius Dressman, the people of the community got together to build a shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, in memory of Father Felix Ullrich, the mission’s founder. A semi-circular wall made of coral rock came from Millbauer Mines near Aripeka, Florida. A large Carrara marble statue of Our Lady was placed on a four-step pedestal and the whole area was attractively landscaped and floodlit at night. A circular coral rock pool stands in front of the shrine. On the evening of December 8, 1953, Abbot Francis Sadlier of St. Leo Abbey officiated at the dedication ceremony.

On May 21, 1957, Father Ignatius McCarthy, O.S.B. celebrated the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of his ordination with a Solemn High Mass and the mission honored Fr. Ignatious with a reception. Father Aloysius delivered the sermon.

In 1960 and 1961 Father Aloysius bought four lots and two cottages on the corner of Washington and Virginia Avenue. The cottages were turned into eight classrooms for Christian doctrine classes and were named after Popes Pius X and John XXIII. The Christian Doctrine program, which was organized in the summer of 1964, has forty teaching members and about 180 elementary school children and fifty-five high school students under religious instruction. Prior to 1964 the Sister of St. Benedict from Holy Name Priory came once a week to give instruction.

In recent years the mission, like the city of New Port Richey, has undergone considerable growth. In 1920, out of 862 residents of the town only seven families were Catholic. Population in the city had been steady since 1950, with a large jump in population between 1961 (3,482) and 1963 (9000). In 1957, there were 150 families in the mission, here are now 500 Catholic families. In 1960, the hall had to be employed for Sunday Masses.

On December 16, 1962, the leaders and the members of the entire community turned out to honor Father Aloysius on the occasion of his thirty-fifth ordination anniversary.

On July 5, 1963, Father Aloysius contract to buy ten acres of land on U.S. Highway 19 at the south end of town for $30,000. On September 1, 1963, Father Michael Leap, O.S.B. replaced Father Aloysius. On January 26, 1964 Archbishop Hurley granted permission to prepare plans for a new church which the growing mission badly needed. In the winter of 1964-1965 three Masses were offered in the Cinema Theatre and one at the old church, accommodating in all 1,500 persons each Sunday.

The new church was completed in the late Spring 1966. This building is a provisional church of brick and stucco construction with laminated beams, a wood ceiling, and a deck roof. It seats 500 persons. It has a terrazzo floor and is air-conditioned. A small social hall adjoins it.

In 1964, Father Michael had the rectory modernized, air-conditioned, and completely refurbished. There are now three bedrooms, one large and one small bath, a large living area, kitchen, porch, three offices and a carport.

On Sunday, October 25, 1965, Father Michael began a new mission in Hudson, about seven miles north of the church. The first Mass was offered that day by Father Richard Kircher, O.S.B. in the Volunteer Fire Department Hall on Highway 19. Eighty-one persons attended. On March 7, 1965 masses were transferred to tow stores rented in the Oakley Building in Hudson. The largest attendance that winter was 130. There are 1,500 homes in this area (north of State Road 52 to the Pasco-Hernando County line) with a Catholic population of about ten percent.

On Memorial Day, 1964, an outdoor Mass was celebrated at the shrine in honor of our country’s dead. About 600 persons from the community attended the service, including member of the American Legion. The service was held again the following year.

Another annual activity at the parish is the May procession in which the parish children and organizations foregather to pay homage to Mary at the outdoor shrine.

Our Lady Queen of Peace Church now serves the western part of Pasco County, from the Gulf to a line about eight miles east of the Gulf. The mission now has the following organizations: Altar Rosary Society, Holy Name Society, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Catholic Youth Organization, Catholic Men’s Club, and Usher’s Club.

Throughout its history the following laymen have played important roles in Our Lady Queen of Peace Mission: Paul Thiel, Joseph and Anna Weiskopf, Peter and Elizabeth Kissel, James and Terry Altman, Leo Smith and Mary Grey.

The mission is proud that Father Lawrence Schuck, O.S.B. who was ordained in 1963, was raised in this mission before his parents moved to St. Petersburg. Mr. William J. Weiskopf of the St Augustine and Mr. Edward Parent of the Diocese of Syracuse are seminarians from the mission.

On Sunday, January 16, 1966 ground was broken for the new church of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish. It was completed by October and the first Mass in the new church was celebrated by Father Leap on Sunday, October 16, 1966. It was formally dedicated by Most Reverend Joseph P. Hurley, Archbishop – Bishop of St. Augustine on Sunday, January 15, 1967.

Within a few years the parish outgrew its facilities and was divided practically in half. In May 1969 a new parish was established in Holiday, St Vincent de Paul under the direction of Father Joseph Beaumont. In January 1971 the mission in the Hudson-Bayonet Point area was established as a parish under the direction of Father George Malin with St. Michael as patron saint.

In June 1975 Father Michael Leap, O.S.B. was transferred to Our Lady of Grace, Lecanto, Fla. Father Aiden Foynes was then appointed Pastor. Father Foynes was assisted by Father Robert Fucheck, O.S.B. and Father Julius Piatkowski who replaced Father William Loesch after he had been transferred to St. Vincent de Paul.

Recent Years:

Under Father Foynes aegis, major changes took place starting with the building of our Parish Center, opened in 1980. Previous Parish activities were relegated to the Marion Center, a room behind the Altar in the Provisional Church building. It was complete with a kitchen (now the Cry Room) and rest rooms. A folding curtain behind the Altar could be opened when overflow at Mass required that “camp chair” seating be used behind the Altar. Celebrants had ample practice “pivoting” from front audience to rear in a losing attempt to be fair to all as they celebrated Mass.

Father Foynes assisting clergy continue to live in the tiny rectory on Washington Street and Father Foynes maintained his office there until the Parish Center offices became available in 1988 when Father Foynes dedicated the fine new Priests’ Residence across the street from the Church. Tribute to Father’s leadership: the Priests’ Residence was debt-free on its opening day. Father reminded everyone the generosity of his flock had much to do with that happy phenomenon!

The enclave surrounding the church was enlarged with the purchase of a resident for Sister (now the Centennial House), bordering the north parking lot and another home on Shaw Street adjoining the Priests’ Residence (St. Vincent DePaul Society building). This home was purchased to accommodate visiting priests. A 3-bay garage and workshop was built to accommodate equipment and to provide work space for the Rosary Altar Society.

With the great Hall available in the Parish Center, the time was right to proceed with modernization of our church. Father’s study group decided against building a brand new church that would have had to be built on the field bordering U.S. 19. Construction would have been very costly and time consuming. To improve what we had, Architect Charles Partin presented plans to improve the seating configuration to achieve eye-to-eye contact between every parishioner and the celebrant; improve lighting and acoustics; improve control and capacity of the air conditioning and to provide a more eye-catching sanctuary.

Father insisted we retain as much of the “old” as possible, respecting the proud history of growth. The original stained glass windows, made in 1920 were retained, serving as Station of the Cross. The Altar Table, Tabernacle and Lectern, all carried over from the old church were clad in rich Carrara Marble to match the Sanctuary which is now 11 feet longer than the old building was wide! The Altar Stone, built in the Altar Table was originally embedded in the old Altar on Washington Street, back in 1919.

As Father’s tenure at Our Lady Queen of Peace was ending, he was busy planning the addition of 4 classrooms.

Several pastors followed Father Foynes. Currently, our pastor is Rev. Sebastian Earthedath, MST.

Our Lady Queen of Peace Pastoral Leadership

Father Felix Ullrich, O.S.B.1913-1932
Father Paul Keegan, O.S.B.1932-1946
Father Maurus Cook, O.S.B.1946-1950
Father Gerard Brady, O.S.B.1950-1952
Father Aloysius Dressman, O.S.B1952-1955
Father Vincent Crawford, O.S.B.1955-September thru December
Father Bernard Weigl, O.S.B.1956-June thru May
Father Benedict Weigand, O.S.B.1956-June thru August
Father Ignatius McCarthy, O.S.B.September 1956-May 1957
Father Aloysius Dressman, O.S.B.May 1957-September 1963
Father Michael Leap, O.S.B.September 1963-June 10, 1975
Rev. Aiden FoynesJune 10, 1975-June 1993
Rev. Gerald PowersJune 1993 to 1998
Rev. Ken Slattery2003 to 2006
Rev. Sebastian Earthedath, MSTMay 2009 to present

Catholic Church Preaches To All

The following article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on Oct. 23, 2004.


NEW PORT RICHEY—In 1913, three Catholic families met for Mass led by Father Felix Ullrich in the home of James H. Casey. Mass was celebrated once a week when Ullrich could come to the area from St. Leo. [jm note: a contemporary newspaper account reports that Casey moved into his new home in early 1914.]

In 1919, a small frame church on Washington Street was dedicated, and Ullrich was the first pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church.

A hurricane in 1921 knocked the belfry off the church, lifted the church from its foundation and set it back down. The church was rebuilt minus the belfry.

A parish hall, completed in 1931, recently was moved near Sims Park to be restored.

In 1963, 10 acres were purchased along U.S. 19, and ground was broken on Allamanda Drive for a new building in January 1966. The first Mass was celebrated there in September 1966.

The current parish hall was dedicated in 1980. A house on Shaw Street was purchased to house sisters, and a garage and workshop were built on the church property.

A part of the church family for seven years, Father Ken Slattery has led the parish for three years. He had served Our Lady of Lourdes in Dunedin for one year before coming to New Port Richey.

Slattery holds degrees from Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y., the University of South Carolina and the University of Texas. His religious education was received at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. Before joining the priesthood, he worked as an engineer for 13 years.

Our Lady Queen of Peace offers religious education classes for youngsters in kindergarten through sixth grade on Wednesday evenings.

The church offers a Fire Program, a special all-day religious education offered for families six Saturdays during the year.

Sister Phillipa leads the ministry for the home-bound and hospitalized.

The Center for Lifelong Learning offers religious and secular classes.

Stepping Stones to Independence helps the elderly remain independent.

There are close to 60 ministries and support groups that enable parish members to be involved.

“The parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Peace church believe God has truly blessed us,” Slattery said. “We seek to live our daily lives to fulfill our Lord’s commandment to love God and our neighbor and try to do that in every way we can.”


In an article describing damage from the 1921 hurricane in New Port Richey, the Dade City Banner reported on Oct. 28, 1921: “The tower of the Catholic church was blown off and the building wrecked.” (New Port Richey newspapers from late 1921 are believed lost.)

Father Felix sent a photo of the damaged church which was published in the May 1922 Extensions Magazine with the following letter he wrote:

The attached illustration of my church at New Port Richey, showing the effects of the hurricane of October 25th, will explain better than I can express the object of my writing. Knowing that there were others in need besides me, I did not burden you with a cry for help, but by an appeal to some of the clergy gathered the necessary means by which I was enabled to repair the church to such an extent that I can at least hold services there without actual fear of the walls tumbling in upon us. Being here permanently I am anxious to make something of this place, and have started a house. Am at present living in the sacristy and am my own cook and housekeeper. I am able to defray expenses as far as the house is concerned, but well do I realize that I will have nothing left for painting it, for a few pieces of furniture, fixtures for light, bathroom outfit, tank and small gasoline engine. Altogether it will amount to $550.00, including a coat of paint for the present church. If you will help me out in this difficulty I shall never cease to praise and thank God for your kindness, and ever remember you in the Holy Sacrifice. It would greatly lighten my burden for the future, for I have a hard task before me, namely the building of a new church so that I can turn the present church into the future school, without which my efforts will be incomplete.

On April 23, 1927, the Tampa Times reported, “New Port Richey Catholics, under the supervision of Father Felix, next month will start construction of a new church on land immediately adjoining the present parsonage.”

On Oct. 2, 1931, the New Port Richey Press reported:

Under the able supervision of Father Felix Ullrich, priest of the local Catholic church, their church building has recently undergone marvelous changes, both inside and out, and now presents a most pleasing and imposing appearance. An addition at the rear of the edifice gives much more room and space for the services. The interior has been painted a snowy white, and the pews have been decorated with the general church appearance. The beautiful church grounds, with their majestic palms and other tropical verdure, complete the appearance of one of the town’s most beautiful properties.

On Feb. 16, 1932, the St. Petersburg Times referred to “a neat church edifice and priest’s home, as well as the new recreation building.”

In June 2001 the old Queen of Peace Catholic Church was moved to Sims Park in New Port Richey. The dedication of Queen of Peace Hall was held on Feb. 24, 2005.

History of Pasco County front page