History of Saint Peter
Established in 1904 to serve the Italian and Tyrolean communities.
First pastor: Rev. Adamo Bini
Last pastor: Rev. C. Anthony Miller
Noteworthy events. . .
* Among the first pillars of the new parish were Joseph Menapace, Celeste Menapace, Richard Recce, Dominic Zanella, Jacob Dondero, Joseph Bridy, Anthony Belfonti, and Emmanuel Tasin.
* On September 11, 1905, the cornerstone was laid for a church at 430 West Avenue. The first Mass on St. Peter Church property was celebrated on May 30, 1906. The church was dedicated on August 15, 1906. That same day, 250 children were confirmed.
* First baptism – May 21, 1905 – Aloysius Bergagavno
First funeral – November 26, 1906 – Joseph Bridy (a founding member)
* Luigi Visintainer, another founding member, turned over his property on West Avenue for the good of St. Peter’s. The convent now stands on the Visintainer lot.
* The first two parish organizations – the Sodality of the Children of Mary and the Altar-Rosary Society – were formed in 1908. They would be followed by a Holy Name Society, Parish Council of Catholic Women, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and Legion of Mary.
* On March 25, 1928, under the direction of then-pastor Fr. Paul Weaver, the parish Passion Players’ Guild first performed Calvary – a drama based on the famous Oberammergau passion play.
* Father Weaver introduced Christmas Midnight Mass to St. Peter’s.
* Father Weaver also began the practice of celebrating Mass in the auditorium of the Wilson School in Atlas for parishioners there. Property was purchased and converted into a church building, which would become St. Paul’s Chapel and, eventually, St. Paul’s Church.
* St. Peter School formally opened in 1938, under the direction of the Felician Sisters. The school operated on the second floor of Our Mother of Consolation School. In 1964, it became part of Holy Spirit School when the parish schools consolidated.
* St. Peter’s Church survived two fires – one on November 27, 1909, and the other in 1949. Damage from the second fire required extensive renovation, completed under the guidance of then-pastor Fr. Francis Dinkel.
* St. Peter Church observed its Diamond Jubilee in October 1980 with a Mass celebrated by Most Rev. Joseph T. Daley, Bishop of Harrisburg.
* The former church building has been converted into the parish office for Divine Redeemer Church. The basement is now Divine Mercy Hall.
Did you know that Saint Peter Church was born at a funeral?
In September of 1904 the funeral of Joseph Melchiore, an Italian immigrant killed in a mine explosion, was held at Our Lady’s Church. The pastor there, Rev. Aloysius Meuwese, encouraged the mourners present – mostly Italians – to consider establishing a parish to serve their needs. They lost little time acting on the idea.
(Sources: Golden Jubilee book, 1955; Diamond Jubilee book, 1980; Mt. Carmel Borough Sesquicentennial Booklet, 2012)