Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in New Port Richey has been a part of Richard Bekesh’s life for as long as he can remember. He grew up attending Sunday Mass there with his parents, played baseball on the field where the educational center stands today and attended religious education classes as a young boy. It’s the church where he married his wife Laura and brought up three children, Nathan, Matthew, and Emily, who have all received their sacraments at the parish. Our Lady Queen of Peace has been a spiritual home where together as a family they have come to know, love and serve God for three generations.
“I think we all recognize the role faith has in our lives. We recognize that without faith it would be nearly impossible to love others, achieve goals and take on immensely complicated tasks,” said Richard. “We have faith in the things we cannot see and understand. I think we practice and demonstrate faith on a regular basis through our actions and deeds.”
Following their parents’ lead, the Bekesh children began serving in ministry at an early age, serving as lectors and ushers. For Richard and Laura, it was important that their children have an opportunity to serve, but they also saw it as a way to strengthen their children’s faith.
“We felt it was a great thing for a multitude of reasons. One reason was the fact that it helped them more deeply connect with the readings. By practicing and discussing the readings prior to Mass it allowed them a much deeper understanding,” explained Richard.
Emily, 16, says the parish has encouraged her to take an active role in volunteering and has helped her to feel like she belongs.
“The church has given me a supportive community and allowed me to serve that community through lecturing, ushering and other service opportunities,” said Emily, who assists at Mass each week and participates in the parish youth group.
Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish strives to provide a loving and supportive spiritual family for all individuals. With a diverse community in both age and culture, the parish is intentional about providing opportunities for people to connect, such as a monthly meal for fellowship.
The youth of the parish are integrated into the wider community and can often be found serving alongside members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, helping the younger children prepare for the parish Nativity Play and raising money for a new prayer grotto that everyone will enjoy.
“They seem to really get more from serving,” said Sally McMullen, Director of Lifelong Faith Formation. “Yes, they enjoy going bowling with their peers but I see more participation and excitement from them when they get to help others.”
McMullen went on to explain that the prayer grotto is a longtime dream of the pastor, Father Sebastian Earthedath. The teens are eager to contribute to the project and have held car washes and other fundraisers to make the dream a reality. Richard, who is the president of Spring Engineering, an architecture, engineering, and land planning firm, has designed the space at no charge to provide future generations a peaceful place to meet God in prayer. For Richard, it is just one way he can use his gifts to give back to the parish who has taught his family so much about having a courageous faith.
“I believe that with God’s protection and guidance we have nothing to fear and can conquer anything,” said Richard. “Father Sebastian is someone who inspires us to have courageous faith.”
Richard and Laura Bekesh are recipients of the 2019 St. Jude Medal Award.