Jill Boughton
Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer
November 5, 2020 // Bishop

A school for holiness in South Bend

Jill Boughton
Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer

Bishop dedicates Christ the King addition on All Saints’ Day

“This is such an appropriate day for me to come here to Christ the King to bless the beautiful new addition to your school,” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in his homily at the 12:15 p.m. Mass for the feast of All Saints’ Day. The Mass on Nov. 1 included a prayerful setting of the Gloria from Palestrina’s “Missa Brevis”; three priests concelebrated the Mass, including former pastor Father Neil Wack, CSC, and two deacons. Bishop Rhoades joked that the occasion of the Mass also gave him a chance to check up on two men whom he recently ordained: one of the concelebrants, Father Gilbrian Stoy, CSC, and one of the assisting deacons, Deacon Geoffrey Mooney, CSC.
He elaborated on how fitting the timing of the dedication was. “The main reason we have Catholic schools is to educate our children in the faith and to help them to become saints. With the blessing of the school addition today, we ask God not only to bless the physical structure, but to bless all who will occupy that structure, the community of Christ the King School, so that it will truly live its identity as a school of holiness, a school that forms faithful disciples of Jesus, active Catholics, a school — in a word — that forms saints.”

Photos by Jennifer Kedik
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blesses a new entrance to Christ the King School in South Bend Nov. 1. A new auditorium/gymnasium and several classrooms were constructed.

Despite setbacks due to the pandemic, most of the addition was completed by the time school opened for the 2020-21 year. Nine additional classrooms have enabled Christ the King to expand its early childhood offerings by adding another prekindergarten class, a program for 3-year-olds and day care for employees. There is also more room for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and an after-school program. The large after-school program room can also host parish meetings.

Pastor Stephen Lacroix, CSC, said, “The enthusiastic support of our parishioners was overwhelming” in the fall of 2018 when the parish launched a capital campaign to finance the addition.

“You’ve made these sacrifices because you believe in the school’s mission to form the next generation of disciples, to educate the children in the Gospel, to educate them in holiness,” the bishop acknowledged.

Ground was broken in summer 2019, and, in Father Lacroix’s words, “Our construction partners have done an amazing job of continuing this project in some really challenging circumstances” like shortages of building supplies. We were blessed with an intrepid crew who made countless adjustments in order to keep the project on track.” He expressed gratitude to the capital campaign committee, the building committee, the architect and all the contractors, who included many parishioners.
Throughout the summer, a task force comprised of administrators, teachers and parents put together “a plan that would keep our community as safe as possible while allowing the kids to come back to school.” Of course, some families have opted to continue with e-learning, but most students have returned in person and “seem excited to be back. So far, the new school year has gone really well,” according to Father Lacroix. Students have adapted to changes including masking, hand-sanitizing, plexiglass dividers and having teachers, rather than students, change rooms. Current school enrollment is 478.

Christ the King pastor Father Stephen Lacroix leads Bishop Rhoades into the newly built gymnasium, which will also function as an auditorium.

Students wound up moving into the new addition in stages. Ground floor classrooms were ready for the beginning of the school year. Early in October, fourth and fifth graders moved into their new second floor classrooms. By the time Bishop Rhoades was able to bless their new space, they had decorated the walls with learning aids, greetings of welcome and vocation posters, including both diocesan and Congregation of Holy Cross seminarians.

Last but not least, a full-size gym has been almost completed. It will enable Christ the King to host athletic tournaments, conduct multiple practices simultaneously and accommodate indoor recesses in inclement weather.

Bishop Rhoades said he enjoyed interacting with the students and teachers he met. At the end of the blessing of the addition, a kindergartner gave him a drawing of her favorite saint with the words “Mary, I love you.” Bishop Rhoades promised to hang it on his refrigerator.

Family groups of parishioners took guided tours on Sunday afternoon following the blessing, and virtual tours of the new spaces should soon be available on the parish website.

The blessed cornerstone of the new building lies ready to be installed.

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