A Brief History of Prince of Peace Catholic Church
In March 1974 the Parish Goals and Development Committee of St Mary’s Church in Greenville suggested a meeting to determine the feasibility of a new parish because of the large and growing population of Catholics in the Taylors and Greer areas. A general meeting was held at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Greer and the consensus was to establish a new parish. A search was begun for a host church where Mass could be said since it was obvious that the Episcopal Church was too small. Grace Methodist Church in Greer agreed to share their facilities and Msgr. William Croghan and Father Michael O’Connor of St Mary’s alternated saying a Saturday evening Mass there.
It soon became clear that the majority of Catholics who joined in this new endeavor were from the Taylors area and Lee Road Methodist Church agreed to let us use their sanctuary for Mass on Sundays. Father Ronald Anderson, who had recently retired and moved back to Greenville in September 1974, joined the priests from St Mary’s in saying Mass in both Greer and Taylors. At both locations a social hour followed the Mass and it was from these gatherings that communications and friendships began that served as the basis for the new parish.
During this period arrangements were made to buy 14 acres of land on Brushy Creek Road in anticipation of building a church. This was considered an ideal location since the community consisted of people from Mauldin, Spartanburg, Tryon, NC and Travelers Rest, as well as from St Mary’s and Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville.
Father Tom Bonifante was named the first Pastor and formed a building committee to begin the planning for our present structure. When the building plans were approved for construction of the first building, the present Church began. The contractor was our own parishioner, Henry Holseberg.
Father Tom Bonifante was succeeded by Msgr. Croghan who was the Pastor at the time of the dedication of the church.
The parish did not have a real name yet, just a mission of St Mary’s. “Lee Road Methodist Church” was what one read on the sign going to Mass on Sunday in their gym. There were three or four popular suggestions. Msgr. Croghan did not like the name Prince of Peace; he thought the people would use POP or ‘Pop’ to refer to the parish. ‘Blessed Trinity’ was a name favored by some. One Sunday all the members of the parish voted at the Masses, and when the ballots were counted, “Prince of Peace” became our name.
Foundation of the Parish
In June 1975, the Greer-Taylors Endeavor came to an end and was separated from St Mary’s Parish. By December 1975, Bishop Ernest Leo Unterkoefler established two Catholic parishes: Prince of Peace, which by June 1976 had over 240 families and Blessed Trinity in Greer.
By October 1978, the parish had 507 families, which included 21 transfers from other local churches.The parish budget for 1979-1980 was set at: $235,000.
Msgr. Croghan, died June 29, 1979 and Prince of Peace received a letter from Lee Road United Methodist Church recalling close relationship between Msgr. and Mickey Fisher, former pastor.
Father Sikora fills in as Administrator until a Pastor is assigned.
On September 1, 1979 there is a welcoming party for Father Lehocky and Father Evatt.
From September 1979 through June 1985 Father Leigh Lehockey served as pastor. Father Tom Evatt- Associate Pastor until September 1981. Father Nick Bayard, Sept. 1981 til 1990.
By 1985 the Parish had grown to 900 families with estimates that by 1990 Prince of Peace would be home to approximately 1220 families.
Sister Margie Hosch and Sister Marilyn Barry join Prince of Peace in June 1991.
The seventh annual church picnic was held September 13, 1991 with 800 persons attending.
Mass of Christian Burial for Rev.Ronald P Anderson on January 22,1994.
Father Chester Moczydlowski was assigned as Pastor in March 1995 and was here until July 1998.
Peace Times first publications was February 1997.
Father Steven Brovey came to Prince of Peace in July 1998.The Capital Campaign fund to build a new church building was started in October 1999.
Some of the church furniture was designed and built by a parishioner, Jerry Paradis. Jerry made the Baptismal bowl base, Tabernacle stand, candle holders and gift table.
Stations of the Cross
The framed Stations of the Cross were donated by Minnie Burchfield in memory of her parents, Carlo and Vita Bucossi. Originally a tapestry, they were framed individually when Father Seitz and Minnie decided they could better serve their purpose in a new form.
In December of 1979, motions were made to set up the purchase of a pipe organ for the church as a memorial to Father Croghan. On August 15, 1984 there was a dedication recital on the occasion of the blessing of the re-built Church organ-a pipe organ built and given in memory of Msgr. Croghan. The organ at Prince of Peace was originally built in New York City in 1865. Levi U Stewart built this organ for St James Episcopal Church in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
In 1896 the organ was enlarged to 15 sets of pipes, and in 1909 it was moved to Trinity Church. The organ was dismantled in 1980 when Trinity Church closed. It was then rebuilt as a new organ incorporating the original pipes with a new mechanical key action.
This rebuilt organ was installed in Prince of Peace and dedicated on August 15, 1984. It was given in memory of Monsignor William Croghan by the people of the parish.
During Lent, 1981, Fr Lehocky and the parish staff decided to add something special to a Lenten liturgy. The whole parish was asked to transfer a bit of clay from one mound to another. Afterward, all the clay that had been handled was used by a potter to form the Baptismal Bowl and a number of clay patens and chalices. Many ‘hands’ went into the creation of those objects. In 2012, it was donated to St Rafka Maronite Catholic Church in Greer.
Throughout the rooms in the parish buildings you will see a variety of crosses. Each was donated by a parishioner who had traveled to another country and brought back a cross. These are indicative of Prince of Peace- the crosses are as varied as the parishioners who have blended to form this parish.
In April of 1985 a comprehensive plan of Building Expansion was recommended which included a proposal for 14 classrooms and a Parish Center. The Education Building site was blessed in April 1991 by Father Seitz, our Pastor and we opened in November 1991. It was designed by Bradley Van Name, a parishioner, in conjunction with the Parish Building Committee. The pastor at the time was Rev Paul Seitz.
Parish Activity Center
The Parish Activity Center (PAC) opened in August 1995 with a gala to celebrate the grand opening. It accommodates athletic, social and spiritual needs due to versatility in design and mood. As one student proudly professed, “After nothing, we now have the best place in town!” The earliest community at Prince of Peace celebrated liturgy in a gym at Lee Road. In August, 1995 Prince of Peace once again celebrated in a gym, but this time in our own facility!
Wooden Altar Cross
Howard Stevermer beautifully hand-crafted the cross in our church sanctuary. Howard offers the following explanation about his labor of love. “The boards that I had were not long enough to make a cross that big, so I cut the wood into narrow strips and was able to piece them together to create boards of the size that were needed. When I glued the pieces back together as an integrated, mixed or laminated board, it reminded me of how a parish such as Prince of Peace fits together so beautifully. The various people from diverse backgrounds help to make the community strong and viable. The young ‘growth’ wood of the tree is the light colored wood in the cross. These lighter portions of wood remind us that our young people are an important part of the whole. They bring us light and joy, and hope for the future. The wood in this cross is black walnut. It comes from one of the Stevermer farms in southern Minnesota.”
Our church building has seven roofs supports. These seven supports represent the seven Sacraments. God’s grace flows down through the sacraments, gathers us together to send prayers, praise and petitions back up to God.
At first some said that our church building looked like a ‘hovering space ship”. Others said there seems to be “no rhyme or reason” for this design. We hope this short explanation has given some rhyme and reason.
Stained Glass Window
For more than three years Lee Road Methodist Church was the home of the Prince of Peace Catholic community. In 1978 we found a way to thank Lee Road and their minister, Rev. Mickey Fisher, for their help and to celebrate the relationship of the two Christian communities. A stained glass artist, who was a member of Lee Road Methodist Church, created two identical windows. We presented one to Lee Road Methodist and installed the other at Prince of Peace. This serves as a permanent reminder of the caring attitude of one Christian community to another. The window has a white dove symbolizing the Prince of Peace. The boat and cross represent the Christian journey through life. The basin with flowing water signifies the washing away of sin by Christ, a symbol chosen by the Methodists. A plaque reads “Love is Sharing.” Our window is located just behind the baptismal font, to the right of the altar. The frame was constructed and installed by young Gene Fitzgerald.
The Blue Window
In the back of the church you notice the blue stained glass window. Mr and Mrs Edwin L Reynolds, friends of Father Croghan, were the parents of Sister Lucy Reynolds at the Poor Clare Monastery here in Greenville. Her superior, Mother Silas, was the founder and first abbess at the Monastery. When she died, the Reynolds’ commissioned a stained glass window to be made in her honor at the Trappist Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. That window is the blue window in Prince of Peace; the name of Mother Silas, OSC, is etched in the corner.
A New Church
When Fr Steven Brovey came to Prince of Peace in July 1998, he set about immediately working on the foundation of his predecessors. A year later, the parish started a capital campaign to build a new church building. The number of families worshipping at Prince of Peace far exceeded the space limitations of the old church, which had multiple uses. Also, Bishop Robert Baker of the Diocese of Charleston saw that the Taylors area was growing so rapidly that a large church would be needed, particularly if the priest shortage continued. At that time, there were 1800 families, much more than the present church could handle. The church had a very strong Capital Campaign Committee.
During those years, Prince of Peace was a very active church with numerous ministries and lay involvement.
The Church was dedicated in September 2003 by Bishop Robert Baker with numerous priests and lay folk attending. The Church, built by the local firm of Craig, Gaulden, Davis, has won architectural awards for its unique blend of postmodern vernacular architecture with classical Roman basilica and Romanesque elements. The Church also began to amass an impressive patrimony of artistic worthy appointments and vestments, unparalleled in any church in the area.
Fr Brovey also helped the parish to found a school in 2003 with a group of parents under the leadership of Mrs Ann Smith. The school, contrary to expectations, grew steadily. In June 2019, Mr Steve Cunningham came on board as the Principal and brought his considerable energy and experience to the school, which experienced tremendous growth under his tutelage.
Fr Brovey was also concerned about the restoration of the sacred and catechesis. Priscilla Estrada and Joe Waters, staff members during those years, did much in the way of adult faith formation and ministry development. Fr Brovey also was able to allow, and then celebrate, the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which attracted a growing following to the parish. In recognition of his tremendous work at Prince of Peace and as the Dean of the Piedmont Deanery, he was named a prelate of honor with the title Monsignor in 2007. In 2011 he was called to be the Rector of the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Charleston.
Prince of Peace Grows Towards the Future
In the last years of Msgr Brovey’s tenure, Fr Richard Tomlinson was Parochial Vicar and then took over as interim Administrator of the parish. His easygoing personality and spiritual guidance brought much stability to a parish which had known much change and transition in the previous few years. After several months, Bishop Robert Guglielmone asked Fr Christopher Smith, a young Greenville native who was at the time studying for his doctorate in Spain, to take the parish, for the time at least, as Administrator.
Fr Smith brought his youthful enthusiasm to the parish. During his first two years, he was able to guide the parish through the retiring of the $7M debt on the new church, the purchase and paying off of 8 acres next to the church for future development, and the donation of a new rectory. He set about undergoing many projects to existing buildings to maintain them and beautify them. The parish was able to entirely replace a needed sound system and address lighting and roofing issues on the church.
As an international speaker and writer on theology, liturgy and catechesis, during his time, the parish received worldwide attention for its highly developed liturgical and musical life. He was insistent on bringing the parish into the digital age and social media, and developed, along with Stephanie Stewart, the Personal Assistant to the Clergy, some of the first high technology social networks in a parish in the United States. He hired a world-class organist, Elizabeth Eger, to support the already well-known work of Alan Reed, Choirmaster of Prince of Peace. The parish began to attract people from even outside the area for its spirit of warmth and hospitality that accompanies a serious commitment to the sacred liturgy and Catholic tradition.
Currently the parish has more than 2100 families. It has once again outgrown its facilities. In 2014, Fr Smith engaged Pazdan Smith Architects to help the community undergo a Parish Master Planning Process to address the numerous space needs the growth of parish and school have brought.
List of Pastors
1975-1976 Fr Thomas A Bonifante
1976-1979 Msgr William Croghan
1979-1985 Msgr Leigh Lehocky
1985-1994 Fr Paul FX Seitz
1995-1998 Msgr Chet Moczydlowski
1998-2011 Msgr Steven L Brovey
2011- Fr Christopher Smith
Tom & Pat Auth
Len & Virginia Byrne
John & Dolores Carr
Greg & Helen Casper
Henry & Joseph Chiarello
R & Anne Marie Church
Dominick & Christine Cipollone
Bill & Connie Crosby
Mr & Mrs Feeney
Gene & Ellen Fitzgerald
Charlie & Margaret Franchina
Emil & Theresa Fritz
John & Dolores Goth
John & Barbara Grubb
Lloyd & Shirdale Hebert
Gary & Gayle Hediger
David & Marie Helms
David Helms, Jr
Henry & Lynn Holseberg
Bill & Dorothea Jones
KJ & Barbara Kern
Richard & Nancy Long
Carl & Marie Mason
Ruth & Roy Morath
Hugh & Joan O’Neill
Ed & Lil Orszak
Gerald & Lenore Ozzimo
Thomas & Grace Panaccione
John & Joan Panaccione
Mary Ellen Rider
Joe & Ellie Rizzetta
Ron & Pat Rossi
Bill & Mary Sloka
Jack & Pat Stewart
Amy & Carmen Vega
Tom & Mary White
Roger & Ruth Weller
The New Church
Art is the Soul of the Church
Our new church incorporates the best of ancient tradition and modern practice. The natural materials -gold, marble, limestone, terra cotta, walnut, cherry and mahogany, remind us of our Creator. , They create an environment that is inspiring and sacramental. The classic materials of church art and architecture by virtue of their beauty, speak of heaven. Shaped by artist and architect, these materials call us to celebrate the beauty of Christ’s incarnation into the world by surrounding ourselves with beauty of the world.
The Church Doors
The bronze sheaves of wheat on the main entrance doors represent that the Holy Eucharist is the center of our lives as Catholics. The wrought steel lilies on the Mary Chapel represent the purity and virtues of Mary. The wrought steel shepherd crook on each door reminds us that Christ is the Good Shepherd and that we are His flock. The front doors of the church are 14 feet high.
Simple, massive features and the rhythmic use of arches characterize Romanesque architecture, on which the design of the church is based. These arches are used to achieve strength and height, drawing our eyes and hearts upward. The trusses that carry the nave roof are similar to those believed to have sheltered the first Christian church in Rome, the original Basilica of St Peter.
The ceiling soars 70feet at the center ridge. Supporting its exposed trusses are precast columns set among salt finished concrete slabs. The total area, 17,025 square feet, will seat approximately 1200 and is expandable to seat 2000. The nave stretches 140 feet from the narthex doors to the apse and the church width is 108 feet at the transepts.
A symbol of a fish is on the baptistry grille. Many traditional and scriptural symbols are used in the artwork. One of the symbols is the olive plant. A traditional symbol of peace, an olive branch was retrieved by a dove and given to Noah after the flood. It was in an olive garden in Gethsemane that Christ went to pray and it is oil from the olive that is in the sacred chrism, used for anointing.
The original crucifix at present, hangs outside the choir loft balcony above the Baptismal Font. The crucifix measures 76” across and is 92” tall. It is an oil on wood panel painting guilt with 22k gold. The design is a reinterpretation of the Italian of crucifix painting. The tradition of the crucifix (the depiction of Christ on the cross) began in the fourth century. Prior to that time the early Christian Church displayed the cross without a corpus. The first crucifix paintings and the sculpted crucifix was a later development. The red sign at the top displays the Hebrew inscription written on the cross: This is Jesus The King Of The Jews. In Luke and John, we are told that the inscription was written in three languages: Greek Hebrew and Latin. The artistic program in the church has included all three languages at various locations throughout the church. In addition to the Hebrew on the Crucifix, Greek is found on the baptistery grille and a Latin/Italian inscription is included on the triptych predella panel.
Flame above the Head of Christ
Fire of the arresting soldiers’ torches, martyrdom.
Golgotha, “the place of the skull”, where Jesus was crucified. Tradition holds that the cross was set above the bones and skull of Adam. Through Adam, the first man, came sin and death. Christ the “New Adam” is life and forgiveness.
Universal symbol of peace; Prince of Peace logo.
Purity, immortality and loyalty: often used as a symbol of Mary Rose Canes: martyrdom and a reminder of the Crown of Thorns. One branch is free of thorns, another Mary symbol, the “thornless rose”.
South Carolina tree- petals are reminiscent of the shape of a cross.
A creature who waits alone in the night- as Christ did in Gethsemane.
Victory over death; native tree of South Carolina.
The Triptych was originally on the church altar. It is now used in Mary’s chapel during the Christmas season.
Section 1 Annunciation
Gabriel with olive branch and iris plants. Iris normally appear in scenes relating to Mary and are a prophetic symbol of the Passion.
Section 2 Nativity
Mary and Jesus with burning candles symbolizing the new light that has been brought into the world.
Section 3 Nativity
Joseph with the ox, ass, candles. The six candles represent the continuous prayers of the church. The ox and ass (Is:1:3) symbolize sacrifice.
Section 4 Annunciation
Mary among the lilies with the dove (Holy Spirit). The lily symbolizes the innocence and purity of Mary.
Section 5 Annunciation Sky
Crescent moon and star (Solomon’s Song 6:10) refer to Mary’s virginity. The orange symbolizes purity, chastity and generosity.
Section 6 Stars
Represent divine guidance and the peacock in the rafters symbolizes immortality and resurrection.
Section 7 Annunciation Sky
The full moon is Mary’s heavenly symbol and reminds us of the cycles of life and passage of time. The cherry represents good deeds, sweet character and the delights of the blessed.
Section 8 Vines
“I am the vine, you are the branches. ”John 15
Section 9 Bees
Church harmony and unity; Paschal Candle & altar candles are made of beeswax.
Section 10 Noah’s Ark
Dove returning with the olive branch is the great sign of peace. The fish represents Christ and sacrament of Baptism.
Section 11 Brazen Serpent
Serpent on the cross refers to Numbers 21:8, “Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and anyone who has been bitten will recover”; also, John 3:14-15, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
Section 12 Jasmine
This flower with sweet scent is a symbol of the Virgin and grace.
Section 13 Renaissance Phrase
The phase “ Sviglia el tuo figlio dolce madre pia” is a Renaissance phrase associated with the Madonna and Bambino. “Sweet pious Mother, watch over your son.”
Section 14 Holly
Evergreen nature symbolizes eternity while the thorny leaves and red berries refer to the Crown of Thorns.
Section 15 Griffin
Popular medieval symbol for Christ. With the body of a lion and head of an eagle, the creature represents Jesus as Savior and powerful defender of good.
Statue of Mary
The statue of Mary and the child Jesus is traditionally called Sedes Sapientiae, Seat of Wisdom. This statue is located in left transept was hand carved in Spain.