When the Rev. Bill Breslawski took over as pastor of Our Lady of Peace Church in Lynbrook in November 2002, the community was still reeling from a shooting inside OLP that claimed the lives of its pastor, the Rev. Lawrence Penzes, and a parishioner.
“A lot of people’s faith was really questioned at that point,” said Laura Ryder, who has been attending mass at OLP for more than 40 years. “Father Bill really was able to come in and turn things around.”
During his nearly 12 years with the parish, Breslawski, who is now a monsignor, has forged strong relationships with parishioners and been a leader in the Lynbrook community. In a few months, however, Breslawski is slated to be transferred to a different Long Island parish due to a Diocese of Rockville Centre policy that relocates pastors after they serve two six-year terms in one parish.
Many parishioners would like Breslawski to stay, including 53-year OLP member Gerry Gordon, who said that Breslawski has a unique ability to connect with people of all ages and make his sermons humorous and relatable. “He’s been fantastic for Our Lady of Peace,” Gordon said, adding that Breslawski was the “glue that held everything together” following the March 2002 shooting.
Like dozens of other OLP parishioners, Ryder attended a meeting the diocese hosted at the church in February to find out from members what kind of person that members would like the next pastor to be. She said that several people voiced their dismay over Breslawski’s transfer.
“Our parish has grown and continues to grow under the leadership of Father Bill,” she said, “but in my opinion, his work at Our Lady of Peace is not done. My heartfelt plea to the diocese is to permit Father Bill to continue God’s work at Our Lady of Peace by continuing to strengthen our parish and spreading the word of God.”