Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in House Springs invites the public to join parishioners for a 60th anniversary celebration on Saturday, June 12.
The event will be held at the church, 4696 Notre Dame Lane, and will include an outdoor Mass and a variety of festivities.
Pastor Dennis Schmidt said the Mass will be at 5 p.m., and then the church will have music, food and fellowship from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
“Don’t forget to mark it on the calendar,” he said. “People will come back who used to be here. They will invite their friends and family come back.”
Anyone who plans to attend is asked to RSVP so the church has an idea about how many people to expect, said Caitlin Brand, the Parish Council chairperson. To RSVP, call the parish office at 636-671-3062.
Due to COVID-19, church leaders initially were unsure about what the anniversary celebration would look like, aside from a Mass, but then, restrictions to limit the spread of the virus were loosened, and organizers realized they could add to the celebration, Brand said.
“Once we got the word that things were starting to open back up, we just kind of thought, ‘OK, well, what can we do to make this more special?’” Brand said. “We wanted to keep it simple but still make it special for everybody.”
Brand said the church has amazing parishioners who pulled together to organize the event, which will include free hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and drinks, as well as live music from the Return Flight band.
She said the Athletic Association plans to hold games for children to play.
Brand recommends attendees bring their own seating.
She said photographs and memorabilia from the church will be on display in the cafeteria.
Jan Schultheiss, a parishioner since 1976 and the church’s bookkeeper, is helping collect and organize the photos.
“We have pictures of when our church was erected. There’s a picture of one of the brick walls up and you’re like, ‘Whoa, that’s pretty impressive,’” Schultheiss said. “So, we’re going to have all that down there that people can kind of mull through and hopefully bring back some good memories.”
Our Lady Queen of Peace was dedicated on July 20, 1961, after St. Columbkille, which was in Byrnesville, and St. Philomena, which was in House Springs, combined into one parish in 1959.
Schultheiss said three bells – one from St. Columbkille, one from St. Philomena and one from Our Lady Queen of Peace – usually hang outside the church.
However, Schmidt said the church sent the bells away for restoration. He hopes they are back by the church’s official anniversary date in July, but Schultheiss said she is unsure if they will arrive by then.
When the two former churches combined to form Our Lady Queen of Peace, at first parishioners from St. Philomena sat on one side of the church, while parishioners from St. Columbkille sat on the other.
As time went on, however, the parishioners came together, said Schmidt, who has been at the church since 2016.
He said there is a sense of family at Our Lady Queen of Peace.
“Before I even got here, one of our deacons called me up to walk me to the parish,” Schmidt said.
Schultheiss, too, says the church is like a big family, adding that when she and her husband moved, her only requirement was that they find a house within the parish.
“It’s home,” Schultheiss said. “All of our friends are here, you know. It’s a good feeling.”
Brand, who has attended the church most of her life, also noted the church’s sense of community.
“It’s just a very inviting group of people. Everyone’s very kind, and anytime you need anything, like any prayers or if you need help, it’s just such a great community,” she said. “You can ask and people will be there for you.”
Brand said she fondly remembers going to picnics at the church as a child. However, she said it has been a while since the church held a large event like that, so she was happy to help organize the upcoming anniversary celebration
She said the church may start having annual picnics again if the 60th anniversary celebration is a success.
While the parish’s school – which started in 1959 – closed in 2019, the preschool remains open. Schmidt said the church currently has about 800 families, down from 1,200 in years past, and he would like to see the congregation grow.