50 years of faith

HARLINGEN — Teresa Gonzales was just a teenager when she began attending Queen of Peace.

That was almost 50 years ago, so celebrating the parish’s half-century mark was very moving.

“It feels like they did a lot to put it together very well,” said Gonzales, 60, who raised her children in the church at 1509 New Combes Highway.

The celebration yesterday marking 50 years since the founding of the church was filled with prayers, singing, festive dancing and a homily by Bishop Daniel Flores.

A heavy wooden crucifix hung on the back wall along with bright green banners. Stations of the cross lined the walls. A woman filmed the proceedings with her camera.

The Prayers of the Faithful were recited in five languages: English, Spanish, Yoruba, Hindi and Filipino.

“It’s just a show of our diversity,” said Vimal Tandi, 35, who recited the prayers in his native Hindi.

“Even though we are so diverse we are still one people, one community,” said Tandi, who goes by Nathan. He pointed out numerous nationalities are represented by the parish.

“I have been here for the last five years,” he said. “Over the last two years they’ve had different programs and presentations leading up to this.”

Parishioners give of themselves so willingly without question, he said.

“They are so welcoming, always inviting,” he said. “That’s what people like about this parish.”

One of the more colorful events of the celebration was performed by the liturgical dancers, a group of girls who danced down the aisles twirling colorful ribbons.

“I think it went beautifully,” said Patricia Barrios, who was in charge of the dancers. She also sang with great energy as the girls danced.

“They just moved to the music,” she said.

The girls were also delighted by the outcome.

“It was really fun,” said Diana Garza, 20.

“I could feel the holy spirit,” added fellow dancer Iridian Gonzalez.

Esther Alabi also worked directly with the girls and recited prayers in her native Yoruba.

“It felt great,” she said with an enormous smile. “I’ve been here four years and the people are so warm.”

The church was founded in 1967 after Cardinal Humberto Medeiros came to minister in the Valley in 1965.

According to the church’s website, the name was assigned by Father Regis Kwiatkowski.

Kwiatkowski inherited the parish with land that was for low-income housing. The land was sold and a corner lot where the church stands was bought.

The actual anniversary of the church is on Sept. 12, but the church celebrated the Saturday before.