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In the mid-19th century in the small fishing village of Port Washington, the first Catholic Mass was celebrated on Pleasant Avenue in the private home of Thomas Fay. It was not until 1900 that Bishop McDonnell of Brooklyn instituted the Catholic Parish of Saint Peter of Alcantara, named after the Spanish Franciscan whose feast day is Oct. 19. A century later on Oct. 21, St. Peter's Parish family gathered to celebrate the centennial anniversary of a parish that has grown to include 2,600 multiculturally diverse families.

(l. - r.): Centennial chairperson Mary Jane Walsh; St. Peter's pastor, Monsignor Daniel Picciano; editor, The History of St. Peter's, Margot Fay Gramer; artist, Mark Fay. Photo by Emmy Kane

Numerous former and current priests, deacons, nuns, faculty members and parishioners joined Bishop John Dunne, principal celebrant of the Mass of Thanksgiving. Under the direction of Mrs. Helen Rocklein, the choir led the congregation in rousing songs. Grateful prayers were offered for the Lord's many blessings on St. Peter's over the years. An exceptional highlight included the presentation of the Papal Blessing from Centennial Committee Chairperson Mary Jayne Walsh to St. Peter's pastor, Monsignor Daniel Picciano. History repeated itself as the fourth generation of the six-generation Fay family participated in this special Mass. Janeen Featherston, 11-year-old altar server, followed in the footsteps of her great uncle, Joseph Fay, who was an altar server at St. Peter's Dedication Mass. Another tradition continued at the close of the Mass as Kay Lynch and her committee presented each parishioner with his or her own prayer card of St. Peter of Alcantara. These lovely cards were first blessed and distributed a year ago at the opening Mass of the centennial celebration.

Members of the Knights of Columbus were on hand to escort parishioners and their guests through the day's festivities. The cafeteria was filled with a detailed collection of pictures, artifacts, family trees and memorabilia, creatively assembled and presented by Catherine Smith and Margo Fay Gramer. Dressed in turn-of-the-century clothing handmade by Kathy Hinck, Stephanie Slaney and Janeen Featherston engaged other children in popular turn-of-the-century games such as jacks and checkers. Kyle and Joseph Featherston looked like they came direct from central casting in their roguish Irish caps and knickers, as they guided viewers through the extensive historical displays. The exhibit drew considerable admiration and appreciation, as did the published version of The History of St. Peter's Church. Another member of the Fay family, artist Mark Fay, designed the front cover of the journal that was compiled by his cousin, Margot Fay Gramer.

Strains of "Happy Anniversary St. Peter's" floated from the upstairs gym, transformed into a gracious garden under the direction of Mary DeNisco, Joyce Spincola and Terry Zenobio. Centennial celebrants enjoyed an extensive and delightfully presented buffet amidst laughter, music and the warmth of a large and loving community. Bishop Dunne and Father Dan together cut the beautiful cake from St. Honore, which was decorated with an amazing replica of St. Peter's Church - complete with gargoyles! This culmination of a full year of programs, projects and parties was filled with faith, surrounded by love, and charged with hope for the future. On a spectacular autumn day, St. Peter's family greeted the contemporary challenges of its second century with a strong sense of tradition, a documented history of God's many blessings, and its own indubitable spirit.


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