By Amy White
Special to The Texas Catholic
From its vibrant ministries to its incredible growth, Prince of Peace Catholic Community had plenty to celebrate during its 30th anniversary this February. The parish commemorated this momentous milestone with a celebratory Mass on the morning of Feb. 7, presided over by Bishop Edward J. Burns.
With three decades of history under its metaphorical belt, Prince of Peace has come a long way since its founding… literally.
“Our pastoral offices for the first three years were in a commercial office building on Ohio Street,” recalled Kay Elliott, the parish’s Director of Family and Children’s Religious Education since 1991 and Director of Safe Environment since 1996.
Elliott recalls that the first Mass—held on Feb. 10, 1991 and marking the birth of the community—was celebrated in the Loews Theatre in the Preston Park Shopping Center. The smell of popcorn was palpable.
“At that time, we were called the West Plano Catholic Community,” she shared. The name was officially changed to Prince of Peace Catholic Community on April 7, 1991.
Since its infancy decades ago, Prince of Peace has stretched and grown remarkably. Its parishioner count has grown to more than 9,000 members and now includes a greater diversity of age groups, cultures, and nationalities than ever before. Prince of Peace has found increasingly effective ways to cater to the needs of all of its members: offering Sunday Masses for the deaf community, faith formation classes for special needs children, and, as early as February of last year, online services for its socially distanced members.
Ministry life also grows stronger with age, as thousands of parishioners chip-in to help others—including the community’s sister parish, Las Mercedes.
“With our ever-expanding ministries,” said Father Tom Cloherty, who became pastor of Prince of Peace in 2010, “I see a community wanting to grow in grace, wisdom, and age and a willingness to journey with others on the way to the Kingdom.”
The community’s school, too, has seen impressive development over the years. Officially opened in 1991 and accredited by the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops in 1998, Prince of Peace Catholic School has since been recognized for its excellence several times, including recognition by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2006 and 2016.
Though much has changed since the community’s infancy—from its location to its size—the core of Prince of Peace remains consistent: community.
“I have always thought that the ‘special sauce’ about Prince of Peace is the community atmosphere,” said Deacon Joe Coleman, who was ordained a deacon in June of 2019 and has served the parish in this capacity since, “Father Jim [Balint], our founding pastor, stressed Vatican II’s emphasis on community, and Father Tom [Cloherty] has certainly continued the community message… I can’t help but think that some of the best of times were spent with community members and some very difficult times were shared, again together, right here at Prince of Peace.”
As Prince of Peace celebrates its past, it looks towards its future. Currently undergoing a comprehensive building project—including the revamping of the church and school, as well as the addition of a chapel and event center—the community continues to grow and improve. If the next thirty years look anything like the first, the future is an exciting one for Prince of Peace.
For more photos of the anniversary Mass, visit our Photo Archive.