THE HISTORY OF PRINCE OF PEACE CATHOLIC CHURCH
During the summer of 1967, a group of Catholic women from the parishes of Holy Angels in Portsmouth and Saint Matthew’s in Virginia Beach began to meet in their homes in the Great Bridge area to establish their Catholic identity. It was this same group that sought the creation of a parish.
On September 15, 1969, Saint Matthew’s Parish priest, Father Donfred Stockert, requested from Bishop John J. Russell to place the entire Great Bridge area under one jurisdiction. On June 3, 1970, Bishop Russell designated the whole lower portion of Saint Matthew’s Parish and a portion of Holy Angels Parish as a Mission which he called “Prince of Peace.” The first mass for the Prince of Peace Mission was celebrated at 9:00 a.m. on September 6, 1970 by Father Stockert at the Great Bridge Elementary School auditorium with 205 people in attendance.
The Prince of Peace Mission also celebrated mass at various other locations; Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, Apostles Lutheran, Twiford’s Funeral Home Chapel and the defunct Village Flick Theater. On April 11, 1971, Easter mass was celebrated at the historic Great Bridge Congregational Christian Church, which became the Mission’s temporary home. During the next two years, the community grew with activities including a joint Easter Service between the Christian Church and the Mission.
On Easter night, March 30, 1975, a fire destroyed the 116-year old historic and cherished temporary home of the Mission, including parts of the educational complex. The Prince of Peace Mission returned to celebrate mass at the Great Bridge Elementary School auditorium and in various other locations.
In April 1975, Father Stockert and the Prince of Peace building committee formally requested permission from the new Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, Bishop Walter Sullivan, to begin a building program. On May of that same year, Bishop Sullivan granted the request and officially made Prince of Peace a “Parish.” Ground was broken for the Prince of Peace worship center in February 1976, and on May, Father Timothy Drake became the first pastor of Prince of Peace Parish. In November 1977, the first Thanksgiving liturgy was held on the church site. On the morning of December 18, 1977, Bishop Sullivan celebrated the Liturgy of Dedication for Prince of Peace Catholic Church.
In June 1981, Prince of Peace received its second pastor. By 1988, the Parish grew rapidly that Town Hall meetings were being held to discuss the wants and needs for building expansion. On November 1, 1992, ground-breaking for the new worship center took place.
In June 1993 Father Christian J. Haydinger became the new pastor. On December 5th of that same year, the new worship space was dedicated by Bishop Sullivan. The Parish continued to grow and the year 1999 witnessed significant milestones in deciding once again to build. Ground was broken for the expansion project in July 2001. The expansion included an enlarged worship space and commons area, a small worship chapel, new parish offices, and a new wing containing catechetical and meeting rooms.
On June 13, 2005, Father Chris turned over his pastoral duties to Msgr. R. Francis Muench, who served at Prince of Peace for two years until the new bishop, Bishop Francis X. Di Lorenzo named him Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Richmond.
On June 25, 2007, Father Romeo D. Jazmin became the new Prince of Peace Pastor.
The Parish also grew in its commitment to community outreach. As early as 1996, participation began in the NEST program that offers two weeks of meals and shelter to the homeless. The Haiti Project began in 1997, providing funds and hands-on help for the L’Ouverture Cleary School in Croix des Bouquet and the Maison Fortune Orphanage in Haiti. Parish volunteers also support the Chesapeake Habitat Interfaith Partners (CHIPs), a local Habitat for Humanity Chapter that helps build many homes in the community, as well as other outreach ministries such as meals-on-wheels and Advent Tree program. On October 24, 2010, the Father Romeo D. Jazmin Food Pantry was dedicated and became fully operational on the 27th, serving countless needy families in the community.
Prince of Peace Parish continues to celebrate its life in the Lord by celebrating the Blessed Sacraments, by educating, by serving the needs of others, and by continually building and supporting the community.