Longtime parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul Church said Saturday that the Norwich church is like another family to them, with strong ties to the community.
The church on Elizabeth Street celebrated its 75th anniversary on Saturday afternoon, the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul.
The Most Rev. Michael R. Cote, bishop of Norwich, celebrated Mass, which was followed by a reception of about 140 people in the church hall.
?This is a special occasion for us and our whole parish,? its pastor, The Rev. Leszek T. Janik, said. ?It?s an honor for me to be with these people and celebrate together a significant anniversary.?
Janik, pastor for the last two years, said parishioners are very dedicated.
?We have so many different groups of people involved on a regular basis in many different ministries in the church, like the Altar Society, in charge of decorating the church on a regular basis.?
The society has about 15 regular members that decorate the church for different observances.
?It?s very meaningful, and very visible,? Janik said.
Carol Cieslukowski has been a parishioner since she was a young girl.
?It?s my church,? she said. ?Over the years it?s had a lot of activities and been very involved with sports for youth from the west side. We all grew up with it. It?s family.?
The parish community was established in 1936 and the cornerstone was laid a year later. The first Mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday, 1938.
Built to accommodate 600 worshippers, the church was designed in Romanesque style. Donations from parishioners, card parties and lawn festivals helped fund construction costs.
The church underwent a significant exterior and interior renovation in 2011 and 2012, Parish Chairman Daniel Leone said.
The parishioners are what give Saints Peter and Paul strength, Leone, a member since 1975, said.
?People are faithful. It?s the Catholic belief. People are so giving of their time and treasure.?
Leone and his young family moved to the area in 1975 and began attending Mass at the church.
?My children had their confirmations and first communions here,? he said. ?It sure has a lot of memories.?