Almost 75 years have passed since Father Peter V. Moran was sent by Bishop Thomas K. Gorman to a little factory town, then known as Basic. Fr. Moran found a community of 3500 residents and a variety of religions, but no place to worship.
Constructed and paid for by the Defense Plan Corporation (a branch of the federal government that built the magnesium plant for war production). St. Peter's was one of just two such churches erected by the DPC in 1943.
The parish's first home was 22 Idaho Way where he set up a chapel in the front room. The small house was soon outgrown and Fr. Moran began saying his mass in the Townsite School Auditorium. Soon after his arrival, he convinced the government that churches are an asset in any community, and St. Peter's Church on the highway was begun. It was four months from ground breaking, August 31, 1943, until the church was completed.
Bishop Thomas K. Gorman dedicated St. Peter the Apostle Church February 20, 1944, the third Catholic Church in the area (the others being St. Andrew in Boulder City and St. Joan of Arc in Las Vegas).
As the war came to an end, the government found itself with a number of "surplus" buildings. Most significant for the parish were the church and Basic Magnesium Hospital. When Fr. Moran learned in 1947 that there were plans to dismantle the hospital, he went to work to acquire the facility. With the help of Senator Pat McCarran and then Congressman and later Governor, Charles Russell, the War Assets Administration was convinced of the feasibility of turning the hospital over to a nonprofit organization. The Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan were persuaded to assume the responsibility of the hospital. The hospital was purchased by the Sisters and they took over its operation June 27, 1947. The name was changed to St. Rose de Lima Hospital, in honor of St. Rose de Lima, the first canonized saint of the Americas, and later to St. Rose Dominican.
The church was also placed for sale by the WAA and purchased by the Diocese of Reno in 1948. In 1950, the parish hall was converted into a temporary school staffed also by the Sisters of St. Dominic. The land adjacent to the church was acquired from the Colorado River commission and by September of 1951 the school was erected and ready for occupancy, having been built , brick by brick, by Fr. Moran and his parishioners. The school was in operation from 1951 through 1970.
The barracks that served as the rectory and social hall from 1945 to 1983 had been replaced by the new mission style building housing the atrium, priests's and secretary's offices, a small conference room, kitchen, laundry, and guest living quarters. A center for parish activities was added later.
St. Peter's Parish has a history of hard working pastors, administrators, associates, and parishioners involved with the entire community of Henderson.
St. Peter's History of Pastors, Parochial Vicars, and Administrators:
1943-1960 Pastor - Msgr. Peter V. Moran
1960-1962 Pastor - Fr. Hugh Smith
1962-1969 Pastor - Msgr. Robert Anderson
1964-1965 Parochial Vicar - Fr. William Duff
1968-1969 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Van Skee
1969-1970 Pastor - Fr. Thomas Wright
1970-1972 Pastor - Fr. John O'Conner
1972-1994 Pastor - Fr. Caesar J. Caviglia
1986-1988 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Tony Vercellone
1988-1993 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Aquinas Nichols, O.S.B.
1993-1994 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Gustavo Cruz
1994-1997 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Robert Wiley
1994-1997 Administrator - Fr. Mark Roberts
1995-2002 Pastor - Fr. Mark Roberts
1997-1999 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Dionisio (Jun) Besinga
1999-2002 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Peter Romeo
2002-2002 Administrator - Msgr. Pat Leary
2002-2003 Administrator - Fr. Pat Rudolph
2002-2003 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Tony Hughes
2003-2005 Administrator - Fr. Tony Hughes
2003-2004 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Tony Vercellone
2004-2005 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Mark Gantley
2005-2006 Pastor - Fr. Bernie Waters
2006-2008 Administrator Pro Temp - Fr. Steve Hoffer
2006-2008 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Phil Audet
2008-2009 Administrator - Fr. Ron Zanoni
2008-2016 Parochial Vicar - Fr. Mugagga Lule
2009-2015 Pastor - Fr. Bruno Mauricci
2015-Present Administrator - Fr. Gem Bandivasinfo@stpahend.org