Parish History

Queen of Peace Parish History

In 1957, Queen of Peace Parish was established by Bishop Pursley to serve Catholics in eastern St. Joseph County. Fr. Milford Bell, the founding Pastor, served the Parish from 1957-1963. During construction, Sunday Mass was celebrated in Twin Branch School.

The school was dedicated in September, 1958. A 4-classroom area was reserved as a chapel so parishioners could pray together. The school flourished under the ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Mishawaka. As the parish grew, mobile classrooms were purchased.

Fr. Michael Vichuras succeeded Fr. Bell as pastor in 1963. To build a church and gym, a fund drive began in 1968. The faith and enthusiasm of parishioners enabled a new church building to become a reality quickly. The church was dedicated in June, 1970. Even more amazingly, the mortgage was paid off by February, 1978.

The decision to close the school was made in 1970, primarily because of the withdrawal of the Sisters coupled with the financial prospect of hiring all lay teachers.

After 15 yrs. of faithful service, Fr. Vichuras retired in poor health. His going-away party was held in conjunction with the mortgage-burning party. Fr. Vichuras passed on to eternal life June 21, 1991, at the age of 77.

Fr. Camillo Tirabassi became pastor in February, 1978. Fr. Cam’s tenure at Queen of Peace was characterized by 3 “devotions” - to the Eucharist, to Mary, & to our youth. After 10 yrs., Fr. Tirabassi was reassigned to Corpus Christi parish, SB.

On February 10, 1988, Fr. Elden J. Miller became our Pastor. He came to us with much parish experience, having served at several parishes in the diocese. Much to Fr. Miller’s credit, many renovations were accomplished without incurring debt to the Parish: the parking lot was resurfaced; the concrete gym floor was replaced with tile; the “green room” was remodeled into 8 classrooms; thermopane windows and a new heating/cooling system were installed “Mary, Queen of Peace” & “Holy Family” murals were designed by parishioner/artist Charles O’Neil & installed by a team of parishioners; stained-glass windows for the church were designed & installed; the front end of the school building was remodeled, yielding several classrooms and a Media Center, handicap accessible bathrooms, an enclosed entrance, and storage rooms adjacent to the gym.

In the fall of 1998, Mustard Seeds Preschool opened under the direction of Teresa Brown. Gr. K-2 were added in the fall of 1999, & Annette Mitchell was hired as principal. Each year a grade was added.

With the new millennium came more plant improvements: a new roof for the gym & church; a new heating/air-conditioning system; a face-lift for the gathering area; new lighting for the church; another parking lot resurfacing.

In 2003, 2 modular units were purchased to accommodate our growing school. Our fledging Middle School occupied the space.

In July 2003, Fr. Miller retired. In his honor, parishioners dedicated the school facility to Fr. Miller “for his vision & commitment to Catholic education.” Nearly 1,000 well-wishers attended his retirement gala!

Also in July, Fr. Richard P. Hire was sent to our parish. A native of Ft. Wayne, Fr. Hire served in the diocesan Office of Religious Education & at parishes across the diocese before coming to us. It became his task to spearhead our “Growing Together with Christ” capital fund drive for our school’s expansion.

In fall of 2006, we opened the doors to our school addition, which added 3 classroom spaces, a school library, and a more efficient administrative space to the school building. The entrance is graced with a mural of Jesus and the children, designed and painted by Charles O’Neil. Landscaping was accomplished by a group of talented and hard-working parishioners. Much-needed renovation to the rectory, indoors and outdoors, began thanks to parishioner donations and the design and work of parishioners.

The modular unit housed the Puma Pals before and after school program, a parish meeting room, a school religion classroom, and the Pastoral Associate’s office. The Parish Library occupied the entry space.

We celebrated our parish’s 50th Anniversary with a gala party in April of 2007, and a potluck picnic in August.

In July, 2007, we said farewell to Fr. Hire, who has been reassigned to St. Martin de Porres, Syracuse, and we welcomed Fr. Daniel Scheidt as our new pastor. Fr. Dan came to us from St. Pius X, where he spent the first 6 years of his priesthood. We also said farewell to Annette Mitchell, & welcomed Chad Berndt as the new principal of our school.

Since the summer of 2007, Parish offices moved into the gathering space of the church; Our Lady’s Garden was designed under the direction of landscape architect Barb Holderbaum and constructed thanks to the arduous volunteer effort of many, many parishioners; the modular building has been removed; new playground equipment for school students was purchased and installed by parishioners and school parents; the Fr. Miller Parish Library was established; a marble Tabernacle was procured and now occupies a place of honor in the middle of the Sanctuary area on a base designed and constructed out of the wood of the Parish’s first altar by parishioner Shaun Derda's dad John Derda.  Queen of Peace School welcomed Mrs. Christina Dover as the new school principal.

Many updates were made to our Church since Fall 2011 including new carpeting, tile for the sanctuary, and the Marian devotional area renovated to add much beauty to our church.  During 2012, an Aquaponics Learning Lab and Outdoor Education Center were added to our school campus.  In the spring of 2014 we dedicated Fathers Fields; a multi-field soccer area for Queen of Peace and our community to utilize.  All of these projects were funded by generous benefactors of Queen of Peace Parish.

In June 2013 we said farewell to Fr. Daniel Scheidt, who went to St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Ft. Wayne, IN, and we welcomed Fr. John Eze.

We said farewell to Mrs. Christina Dover and we welcomed a new principal to our school, Mrs. Jill Patrick, in August 2015.