Catholic Free Press

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  • Nov
  • 28

Parishioners urged to lead others to Christ the King

Posted By November 28, 2011 | 10:14 am | Lead Story #1
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By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – The feast of Christ the King was created to lead the world to peace.

Eleven years later Christ the King Parish in Worcester, which now proclaims the way to that peace in a stained-glass window, was established.

The parish has been a leader in developing lay ministries, in ecumenical outreach and in commitment to the poor. In the future, all parishioners must be ambassadors for Christ.

Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan made these points in his homily for the parish’s 75th anniversary Mass Sunday, the feast of Christ the King.

The Mass was one of nearly a dozen events held to celebrate the anniversary since last winter, said Msgr. Sullivan, who became pastor July 1 and was formally installed by Bishop McManus at Sunday’s anniversary Mass. Concelebrating the Mass with them were Bishop Reilly, Father John M. Lizewski, associate pastor, and priests who formerly served there.

In his homily Msgr. Sullivan said Pope Pius XI established the feast of Christ the King in 1925, seven years after the Great War (World War I), to lead the world to peace. He said the pope wrote that people had “thrust Jesus Christ out of their lives” and there would be no hopeful prospect for lasting peace “as long as individuals and states refuse to submit to the rule of our Savior.”

Msgr. Sullivan pointed out one of the church’s stained-glass windows, which shows saints and angels gathered around Christ the King.

“It tells us that the world finds peace when it looks to that king,” he said.

Msgr. Sullivan told of Bishop Thomas O’Leary establishing Christ the King Parish, which he said enjoyed the life of the Spirit from the beginning. The parish has had exceptional priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders, committed to bringing people close to Christ the King and his mission of peace, he said. Parishioners built a “historic CYC” and “benchmark religious education programs,” and there were clubs, societies and social gatherings.

“We were at our best when we identified with Jesus found in those who suffer,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “In the future we will be at our best when we discover Jesus…in the hungry…the imprisoned… What has been, has been marvelous. What will be can be better still – if we make it so.”

He called to mind those who served in the past and challenged everyone to be involved in the future.

Jesus and the new evangelization must be at the heart of all they do, he said. All need to be his hands, missionaries in the area and beyond. They must uphold the dignity of born and unborn, and the importance of marriage and family life, and work with other communities of faith, including non-Christians, to defend the right to live by faith and conscience. He called for teaching youth the importance of sacraments and service, and praying together, especially at Mass.

At the end of Mass Bishop McManus said what makes a vibrant community of faith is people who realize they are children of God. Their king reigns not from a golden throne but from the wood of the cross, he said. He spoke of various totalitarian regimes that sought to replace God with the power of the state.

“We must always be vigilant; we can easily lose our religious liberty,” he said. He spoke of Christ’s kingdom of truth, love,  peace and justice to which they are called.

The bishop told parishioners he believed “that from your parish God will raise up vocations to priesthood and religious life.” He said God never ceases to call, but distractions sometimes prevent youth from hearing the call. He said the faith has been passed on by their families and called for that to continue.

Deacon Michael T. Chase, who assisted at Mass with Christ the King’s other deacon, Joseph M. Baniukiewicz, told The Catholic Free Press he is fortunate to be assigned to his home parish, where his family has been for 26 years.

“I love this parish,” he said. “My boys grew up in this parish, received their sacraments here. The Holy Spirit is at work in this parish. You can see it in the people.”

“I joined the parish in ’56; I came originally from Mount Carmel,” said Christine Cipro. “I love the parish; I love the people, but most of all we had great priests who preached the word and taught us great lessons of the love of God.” Of her present pastor she said, “He’s great; I like priests that take the congregation in and embrace them.”

Kathleen Burke, 72, said she has been in the parish all her life, and remembers when the present church was built.

“Our beautiful choirs, our liturgy…” she said of some of the blessings. “There’s also the children’s choir. We had minstrel shows in the old church. And it grew into this big parish.” She said they outgrew the first church building.

Cecilia Bowe, who came to Christ the King in 1970, said it’s been a wonderful parish; it’s peaceful.

Katie Burnham, a parishioner for about 20 years, spoke of attending Mass more than once a week and being involved in parish events, and said this is a gift she wishes more people would accept; maybe they would find their roots.

“There’s a peace that comes from coming to Mass here,” she said. “Everybody participates.”

 

HISTORY

By William T. Clew

When Christ the King Parish was founded in what was unofficially known as the Village of Tatnuck 75 years ago it was a rural parish.

In a letter to  his parishioners 50 years after the parish was founded, Father Paul T. O’Connell said that in 1936 cows still meandered through Tatnuck Square on their way to graze “on the other side of the trolley tracks.”

Christ the King was much different then. It was rural and stretched all the way to Rutland. It had grown out of Blessed Sacrament Parish. It was the mother church for the mission in Paxton, which became St. Columba Parish in 1951.

Four months after it was founded, parishioners succeeded in building a wooden, 450-seat church in just 45 days. It was built on land known as the old Kendall Farm.

It was purchased from Winnifred Buxton of Pleasant Street for $18,000. The present church was built on the property, as well as a convent for the Sisters of Mercy who served the parish. For many years the Sisters ran a kindergarten in the convent.

The original church was “mostly what all churches consisted of during that Depression era,”  according to Bernard

 

McKeon, a parishioner quoted in a parish history.

“It was a church with bare essentials, no baptismal font, two confessionals, a barren sacristy, bare wooden floor and a small choir loft. The kneelers were uncovered and so clanked and echoed. Even the beautiful sanctuary light was so high that with the highest ladder it became a feat of wonder and probably gave our two priests their most strenuous and fearful exercise.”

It was intended to be used for just six years. But it was the parish church for 22 years before it was replaced, according to a parish history.

The present church, far different from the original, took two years to construct. It cost $331,000. The parish of 2,300 oversubscribed a $100,000 fund drive by raising $148,000, according to news reports. It was called an architectural gem,

Bishop Wright laid the cornerstone in 1957.  It was dedicated on Oct. 26, 1958, and commemorated the Feast of Christ the King. O.E. Nault & Sons were the architects.

Plans called for the church to seat 636, be  finished  in light brick, have a sloped floor for better visibility, a choir loft behind the main altar, a baptistry, a bride’s room for weddings and what was called a “bawl room” for young children. Bishop Wright said the building would “conform to modern times.”

During construction of the church, Bishop Wright presented a set of 18 wooden mosaic called marquetries to the parish. A story in the April 5, 1957 edition of The Catholic Free Press said the inlaid wooden art, about four feet high and 26 inches wide, were “priceless in value and unequalled in craftsmanship. They emphasize the Old Law hopes brought to realization by the New Testament order of Christ the King.”

The newspaper story said the artist who created them on commission from the Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris made them double thick and bisected them, giving him two sets. One set went to the Cardinal-Archbishop, who placed them in the Basilica of Sacre Coeur on Montmartre in Paris. The artist sold the second set to an Englishman.

The second set eventually wound up in an antique shop in New York, where Bishop Wright bought it, according to the parish history.

The church has 12 stained glass  windows, created by Pierre Lardeur, “a major artist living in Paris, according to the parish history. They represent the Annunciation, Epiphany, Presentation, The Holy Family, Calling of the Apostles, Jesus Preaching, The Marriage at Cana, Multiplication of the Loaves, Jesus Enters Jerusalem, the Last Supper, Jesus Dies on the Cross and The King of Glory. The artist stayed in Worcester with the Nault family in 1958 while the windows were installed in the church.

The parish history describes the eye-catching mural on the front of the church as follows:

“Christ as King, depicted in many aspects of His glory, is the central theme of the striking mosaic mural adorning the front of Christ the King Church. Juliette Nault, Worcester artist and sculptor, executed the work after spending months in research on its design.

“After sketches were complete, the full scale design and specifications were sent to artisans in Italy to be executed in mosaic. Hundreds of thousands of marble pieces in varying shades of grey, white, black, and muted red tones are interspersed with small pieces of gold leaf fused under glass. The end result is a creation of great beauty that was installed in 1958.

“Christ the King is over the main entrance of the church and is flanked by figures of the Blessed Virgin, angels, St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, and symbols representing the Apostles, Martyrs, Pontiffs, Doctors of the Church, Confessors, Virgins, and Holy Women.

“Dramatic values are subordinated to symbolic ones. A sea is clearly visible, symbolic of Christ the King of the sea. The ‘King of all living creatures’ is depicted by a lion, representing Christ’s strength and a stag, the symbol of power over evil. A rose bush represents His love and compassion. The family is represented by three figures and peace is expressed by children releasing a dove. Christ’s power is evident in the King, saints, and angels giving homage to Him.

“The panel extends around the baptistry and contains symbols of the seven sacraments. The entire design is consolidated by the use of branches that have a common root in the tree at the bottom of the large pane at the left.”