Like most churches, Our Lady of Peace started because of a need. In some ways, life in Greeley in the 1930s and ‘40s wasn’t much different from the way it is now. Each summer, migrant workers from New Mexico, Texas, Mexico, and other areas in South America ventured north to work in the field. Some of them settled in Greeley. Others left when the summer was over.
As the population of migrants grew, so did the need for things like housing, transportation, food and clothing. In addition, so did the need for spiritual direction and a sense of dignity.
The Catholic Hispanic population, who lived in Greeley 60 years ago, only had St. Peter’s Catholic Church as an option for attending Mass. However, this arrangement was very challenging, as it was difficult to receive spiritual guidance in English, when Spanish was their native tongue. Recognizing this challenge, Archbishop Vehr from the Denver Archdiocese appointed Father Dominic Morera, originally from Spain, to form a new parish in Greeley.
Soon after arriving in Greeley in 1942, Father Dominic got the Hispanic community talking about building a church. It would be a place where this community could join in fellowship, participate in Mass, and the sacraments, all in their native language.
Plans for constructing this new church began in April 1942. People started collecting money to build a new church. A committee was formed to oversee the project. A block in the northwest section of Greeley was purchased, and the first bid for the church was taken at $27,000. During World War II, while many men in the church were off fighting, plans for the new church were put on hold. When the war was over, the effort to build the church intensified. People did anything they could to raise money for the church. They held bake sales, cooked for weddings, sold homegrown vegetable, and hosted dances at the State Armory. Each family in the parish was asked to donate $10, which was quite a sacrifice or families. The Archdiocese of Denver even donated $1,500 to the project. Construction of the church began in December of 1947.
Through much hard work, dedication, and love of Christ as the driving force behind this project, Our Lady of Peace was dedicated by Archbishop Vehr on July 8, 1948. The church was named “Our Lady of Peace” because it symbolized people’s hopes for peace after World War II. Once completed, the Catholic Hispanic community of Northern Colorado had a place that met its spiritual needs in its native Spanish language.
Over the years, the community of Our Lady of Peace continues to grow, and is the parish home for many families. These families have been members of the parish for generations, and others, new to the area. Parishioners celebrate the diversity of the languages, cultures, and races of the parish. We are all children of Christ, and celebrate that union together.