For 50 years, Saints Peter and Paul Parish has been a witness to Christ’s love alive in people’s heart. Over the past half century, thousands of families have drawn strength, encouragement, hope, joy, and solace from the presence of God within its church walls.
The four-acre site for Saints Peter and Paul Parish was acquired June 1, 1948, for $1,600 per acre, a price that represented a gift of up to $10,000 at the prevailing prices of that time. Reverend Robert G. McMahon was appointed the first pastor on June 30, 1949. June 29 is the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul and the anniversary of the establishment of the parish.
At the time the parish began, it had $300 in the bank and 120 Catholic families within its boundaries. The first Mass on October 2, 1949, in the temporary church set up in a store on West 38th Avenue. A church and rectory were planned.
On September 19, 1950, Archbishop Urban J. Vehr dedicated the parish’s first church, furnished with folding chairs and kneelers made of two-by-four inch planks on cement blocks. Enthusiastic parishioners arose at 4:00 a.m. to plant a thousand blooming gladiolas in the bare earth surround the construction site referred to as “Father McMahon’s miracle.”
In March, 1954, the Altar and Rosary Society initiated fundraising for a school. with a donation of $500. Parishioners began holding social events. In September 1955, Sts. Peter and Paul School opened, a modern $150.000 structure containing four classrooms, a gymnasium/ auditorium, and a teacher’s lounge. A home at 4040 Pierce Street was acquired, and remodeled by volunteer help, to be a convent for three Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, who opened the school with 138 children.
By the 10th anniversary of the parish in 1959, improvements were made to sit 600, a rectory, a new convent under construction, 12 sisters, 500 students, plans for either more classrooms, and 800 families.
In 1967, (assigned by Archbishop Casey ) Father John Imesh, a Swiss-born member of the Bethlehem fathers was our new assistant pastor.
On the 20th anniversary of the parish in 1969, the parish “burned its mortgage” at a party celebrating the debt-free status of its million-dollar facility. By the 25th anniversary of the parish, both the church and school had been expanded, the convent finished and 849 children had graduated from the school, 1,253 persons had been baptized, more than 496 couples married and 1,931 people confirmed.
On December 30, 1979, we mourned the death of our beloved pastor of 30 years. Father McMahon’s pastorate left a legacy of spiritual benefits beyond measure as he and his flock worked to meet the needs of the growing community.