Prince of Peace Catholic Church is a church that is steeped in history, being the “daughter parish” of St. Paul Catholic Church, which was formed in 1864. Archbishop Ignatius Strecker initiated the formation of a second Catholic parish in Olathe in the fall of 1979 to accommodate the rapid growth in the area. Parishioners were able to participate in the naming of the new parish by submitting suggestions to the Archdiocese. From these submissions, Archbishop Strecker chose our name. Our church is dedicated to the Prince of Peace.
When Archbishop Strecker initiated the formation of the new parish, he appointed Fr. Charles Andalikiewicz as the first Pastor. He was formerly the Pastor of St. Paul’s. On the weekend of September 8 and 9, 1979, Fr. Charles held the first Mass for the new parish along with 400 families at Santa Fe Trail Junior High. Within two years the expanded parish moved its temporary church to Tomahawk Elementary School. At this time, land was purchased at 143rd and Brougham and the building process began. On September 30, 1984, the groundbreaking ceremonies were held and Archbishop Strecker blessed the site with hundreds of parishioners in attendance. Construction continued for the next two years. It was with great pleasure and blessings that on Christmas Eve in 1986, at five o’clock, that the doors of Prince of Peace Catholic Church were opened! What a wonderful way to welcome the parish family to its very first Mass in the new Church!
On February 22, 1987, at three o’clock in the afternoon, Archbishop Strecker celebrated the Mass of Dedication for Prince of Peace Catholic Church and the blessing our new parish school, which was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and lay faculty. At that time, the parish had over 900 families with 80 students enrolled in pre-school through third grade.
In July 1988, Fr. Robert Bergman became the new Pastor of Prince of Peace. In the fall of 1990, Fr. Bob initiated Project H.O.P.E. (Help Our Parish Expand). This project was in response to the needed space our growing parish required. It was with great hope that through this project the funds needed to build a permanent church and expand the facility space would be generated.
In July 1991, Fr. George Bertels became the new Pastor. Early on, he saw the need to build community and worked with parish leadership to form small neighborhood groups to help families connect with their Catholic neighbors. Through these efforts, families connected and continued to work towards the building of a permanent church. On April 25, 1995, Fr. George received exciting news from Archbishop James Keleher that Prince of Peace had received permission to move forward on the construction of the new permanent church and facility expansion. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on a rainy May 21, 1995 and was presided over by Archbishop Keleher with more than 175 parishioners in attendance, who were not deterred by the weather. At this time Prince of Peace had over 2,000 families belonging to the parish and the school was set to have an enrollment of 450 students for the 1995–1996 school year.
The first Mass celebrated in the new church was held on June 30, 1996 with Father George Bertels and Father Gerald Volz presiding.
In July 1996, Fr. Frank Burger was appointed the new Pastor of Prince of Peace. August of 1996 brought many exciting things to our Parish. It was during the weekend festivities of August 16th–18th that the Cornerstone of the Church was placed; on Sunday, August 18th at two o’clock in the afternoon, Archbishop James Keleher celebrated the Mass of dedication of the new church.
On the Solemnity of Mary, January 1, 1997, Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration began in the Adoration Chapel.
With the beginning of the 1999-2000 school year, Fr. Frank began the Early Education Center at Prince of Peace. This opened classes for two, three, and four year-olds and a program called Kindergarten Plus. The addition of the EEC program allowed families an opportunity to have after-school care for students in grades 1 through 6 as well.
In February of 2001, we began Project G.I.F.T. (Growing Into the Future Together), a capital campaign to build a new educational wing. This phase of construction would provide regular and specialized classrooms as well as meeting and storage space for the use of our school, School of Religion program and parish organizations.
On June 2, 2001, the community of Prince of Peace celebrated, with great joy, the Priesthood Ordination of Gary Pennings, a founding member of the parish. Fr. Gary celebrated his first Mass at Prince of Peace, on Pentecost Sunday, June 3, 2001.
2004 was a “Monumental” year for Prince of Peace. The church celebrated its 25th Anniversary in November of that year. At that time, Prince of Peace was the largest parish in the Archdiocese with over 3,500 families. In that same year, a new beautification project began. Fr. Frank initiated the Project Moses campaign. The purpose of this project was to build the prayer garden and place the Ten Commandments monument in the circle drive.
From July 2012 to June 2013, Fr. William Bruning became the new Pastor and continued to build upon the work started by his predecessors. Following Fr. Bill, Fr. Gary Pennings assumed the role of Parochial Administrator. During this time, on May 24, 2014, Prince of Peace was blessed to see the ordination of Jamie Zarse. Jamie was a native son of our parish and a graduate of Prince of Peace Catholic School and St. Thomas Aquinas High School. It was extra special that his ordination took place here at Prince of Peace.
In July 2014, Fr. Gerald Volz became the new Pastor, returning to a parish with over 3,600 families and now the largest in the Archdiocese.
Major renovations began in 2016. Work was started on the lower level of the church as an elevator was added to improve accessibility for those with mobility challenges. On May 23, 2016, work began on the chapel to enlarge the worship space for daily Mass and Adoration. A Mass of Blessing and Dedication took place on December 3, 2016, by Archbishop Joseph Naumann.
With the ever-growing population of Johnson County, Archbishop Joseph Naumann announced on May 29, 2016, that a new parish would be established in Olathe and with that, a decree altering the boundaries of our parish. Ascension parish boundaries were expanded to our east, and to the south the creation of the new parish significantly reduced the area we served. The new Olathe parish, St. John Paul II, was formed with 800 Prince of Peace families and began on September 1, 2016.
On Saturday, June 3, 2017, Prince of Peace parish had the pleasure of celebrating the ordination of four deacons, of which two are from our parish. Mike Denning and Chris Slater were ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas by Archbishop Joseph Naumann. We are blessed to have two more parishioners, Jason Imlay and Justin Reuter in formation with the Diaconate program. On August 25, 2019 they will be installed to the ministry of Acolyte.
It is hard to believe that what started as humble beginnings in what is now our school gymnasium has now grown into one of the largest parishes in the Johnson County area through the very generous support of our parish families. Prince of Peace will celebrate its 40th anniversary this coming December. As of this publication, Prince of Peace parish has 2,637 families. The school which started with 80 students has a current enrollment of 508 in grades kindergarten through 8th grade. The Early Education Center has approximately 53 children enrolled in the part-time pre-school program, 75 children in the full-time pre-school program and 46 children in the after-school program. Our School of Religion has 462 students enrolled from Kindergarten through Confirmation age.
We are most proud of the faithful celebration of the Sacraments. Over the past 40 years, we have celebrated 7,903 Baptisms, 8,411 First Communions, 6,363 Confirmations, 1,295 Marriages, 669 Funerals and have welcomed 832 new members into the Church through our RCIA program.
Prince of Peace has many church programs, organizations and ministries that make for an active, vibrant community. We welcome you to our ever-expanding church family with numerous adult and youth faith formation opportunities available so we can all grow in love and understanding of our Catholic way of life.