By Lisa Kochanowski
SOUTH BEND — “I remember being here a year ago for Confirmation and after Mass I said to Father Neil, ‘you know what this church needs is stained glass windows,’” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades to a packed Christ the King Church on Sunday, Nov. 20. “Little did I know that this plan was in the works.”
To commemorate the feast of Christ the King and the 50th anniversary of the church building (the parish was formed 78 years ago), Bishop Rhoades celebrated a special Mass with the Christ the King parish community. Along with the celebration came the blessing of stained-glass windows that were recently given to the church from a parish in Pennsylvania in the town the bishop was born.
“In an effort to add beauty to our place of worship, the parishioners launched an extensive renovation project. The centerpiece of the renovation is stained glass windows,” said Heather Coyne, parishioner and volunteer. “The current church and rectory, built in 1961, were completed with single-pane ‘temporary’ windows. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the church, stained glass windows are being installed, in addition to a new floor and refinished pews.”
According to Coyne, the stained-glass windows for the project have come from a parish in Pennsylvania that recently closed. Renovation work began in August.
“Funding for the project was developed through sponsorships, small fund-raisers, and a 50-mile walk by (Holy Cross) Father Neil Wack and (Holy Cross) Father Kevin Grove (parochial vicar of Christ the King),” said Coyne. “Father Neil is pastor at Christ the King, and a 1984 graduate of the school. Father Wack is excited to be completing the work begun by Father Funke (Holy Cross Father Clement Funke, pastor at that time) and parishioners who built the church 50 years ago.”
Coyne noted that founded in 1933 as an offshoot of Sacred Heart Parish at Notre Dame, the little white church by the highways opened its doors in 1935. It was not long before the parish community outgrew the small church, so plans were made to build a bigger church on the property. The new church was completed, but without the resources necessary to include the stained glass windows in the original plan.
Members of the Knights of Columbus and several Holy Cross priests accompanied Bishop Rhoades down the aisle at the beginning of Mass. He thanked the community for their generous donations and support of this church.
“It is a wonderful demonstration of your faith, your commitment to your parish, and your desire to make this sacred place, dedicated 50 years ago to the glory and honor of Christ the King, an even more beautiful house of God. We remember in our prayers today all the faith-filled and generous parishioners since this parish’s founding in 1933, 78 years ago. We remember all the priests and sisters who have served here. In a special way, we remember the first pastor of Christ the King Parish, Holy Cross Father Clement Funke. I am using Father Funke’s chalice for this Mass today,” said Bishop Rhoades.
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades talked about the kingdom of God and the differences between Jesus and other rulers and kings in history.
“In today’s Gospel, we heard the last teaching of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel before His entering Jerusalem to face His crucifixion and death. The parable presents the great scene of the last judgment, with the Son of Man, Christ the King, seated upon His glorious throne. The Lord of history and King of the universe separates the sheep from the goats. The judgment is based on their acceptance or rejection of Jesus, who identifies Himself with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill and the imprisoned,” said Bishop Rhoades.
“After Jesus taught this parable, He made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem,” continued Bishop Rhoades. “Christ the King entered into the holy city not on a great chariot of war, like other kings, but He entered riding on a donkey, the animal of the common man and of the poor. He is not a king who dominates by political or military might. He is the king who reigns with humility and meekness.
“Our King entered the world as an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger,” he said. “Our King brought peace to the world through the cross, the sign and instrument of reconciliation and forgiveness, the sign that love is stronger than violence and hatred, stronger even than death. Through the cross, evil is conquered by good, by love.”
The homily was concluded with enlightenment on the feast of Christ the King and how it enters God’s people through the Mass and carries through to daily life.
“Here in this newly beautified church, your parish community enters into communion with Christ and one another through the Eucharist, the sacrament that makes the Church. Christ’s sacrifice of love becomes present on the altar. We who are nourished by Jesus’ Body and Blood are thus strengthened to go in peace when the Mass is ended, to go forth as loyal subjects of Christ the King, not with weapons of war or earthly power, but with the gift of self, with love carried even to our enemies.
“Jesus does not conquer the world with the force of arms, but with the force of the cross, which is the true guarantee of victory” (Pope Benedict). As disciples of Jesus, we are to be His envoys, His ambassadors, as St. Paul said. This means that at times we will be treated as He was treated. Jesus said that to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. The Eucharist strengthens us to do so,” encouraged Bishop Rhoades.
He concluded, “Being members of a parish with the title of ‘Christ the King,’ you are particularly led to reflect on the mystery that the whole Church celebrates today: the mystery of Christ’s Kingship and His Kingdom. We honor and serve our King when we practice the works of mercy, when we recognize Him in the least of our brothers and sisters. May we all serve our King with love and fidelity.”
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