“Making God known, loved and served” is not only the mission statement of Christ the King Parish, South Bend, it is at the heart of this vibrant parish. From welcoming and evangelizing the South Bend community to nourishing and ministering to the souls of their own faithful parishioners, Christ the King shares the good news with genuine, authentic faith in Jesus Christ.
Located on the busy corner of S.R. 933 and Darden Road, often one’s first view of Christ the King is of a marquee with rotating words of Scripture, parish news, liturgical events and the time. Even there, as a bright light full of hope and humble, helpful reflections, the sign serves as a witness to Christ’s presence to drivers passing by.
The welcome that a visitor to daily Mass or the parish school receives is authentic and warm. Deanna Rodgers, parish secretary, keeps everything operating smoothly and with the friendliness of a family. Her welcome mirrors that of the pastor, Father Steve Lacroix, CSC, who shares God’s love with everyone he encounters; and that of associate pastors Father Michael Belinsky, CSC, and Father Michael Palmer, CSC.
“Christ the King is a vibrant parish. We have a lot of families who have been in the parish for many generations. We also have a thriving school that keeps us young. It’s a great cross-section of folks who offer an inspiriting witness to the faith,” Father Lacroix reflected.
Congregation of Holy Cross roots
The priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross have staffed Christ the King since its founding in 1933. Father Peter Miner, CSC, was the first pastor. Newly appointed Bishop-designate William Wack of Tallahassee, Fla., grew up in Christ the King parish, served as an altar boy and studied at Christ the King School. His brother, Father Neil Wack, CSC, is a former Christ the King pastor, and their parents and many of their siblings are active members of the parish.
Family roots run deep at Christ the King. Anne Walorski Morin had such positive, life-giving memories of the parish from her childhood that when she returned to South Bend, after serving and teaching in the ACE program in Tennessee, and marrying and moving to California, she and her husband, Eric, made being a Christ the King parishioner a priority. Their older children love the parish school and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program.
Intergenerational love of the parish is not uncommon. Corinne Gries and her family found that they “started attending Mass at Christ the King because it was convenient. After a few short months, it was the older generation of parishioners who would recognize us at the grocery store or around town and stop to talk. Christ the King is a community that was welcoming. This drew us in. We are called to serve others, and I am inspired to follow in the footsteps of these parishioners in supporting the future of Christ the King.”
This model of one community of faith, working together, sharing their unique gifts and talents for the good of the parish, can be observed in many ways. Megan Urbaniak, director of adult faith formation, runs the St. Gianna Moms Group, a place of spiritual and social refreshment. To support the group, other mothers, often whose children have grown or those who do not yet have children, volunteer to watch the St. Gianna Moms’ children so they may gather, pray and be present to one another.
It can also be seen in the way the pastoral staff works together. Lay and religious, they are called a “pastoral team.” When one department is hosting an event, the other directors and priests attend, support and enjoy the time together. From their harmonious, respectful and joy-filled interactions, the very life of the Trinity is modeled.
The larger parish community also models the mission statement of self-giving and sacrificial love in their partnering with a sister parish, Corpus Christi, in Jalchatra, Bangladesh. Since 2009 they have worked to build a relationship with Corpus Christi by learning and supporting each other financially and spiritually.
There are 56 active areas of ministries at Christ the King. For every age group, from children to the elderly, there is a ministry available, reflecting the Catholic social teaching of human dignity and respect for all stages of life. From prayer ministries to music and parish life ministries, every parishioner can find a niche and an opportunity to serve. Continued collaboration between the ministries is also encouraged and supported.
The parish has special relationships with community partners. Abigail Ulrich, director of youth ministry, and the youth group are beginning a special week of summer service in the South Bend community by helping in Camp Millhouse, the Catholic Worker, Unity Gardens and other sites. Parishioners of all ages are indeed making God’s love known in both word and deed.
The example of one group serving another goes back to the early years of Christ the King. As the population on the north side of South Bend began to grow, the Diocese of Fort Wayne recognized the need for a new parish. In 1927, Father Edward Finnegan, CSC, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Notre Dame, began raising the $6,500 needed to purchase land. In 1933, Bishop John F. Noll authorized the parish with 150 charter families. The new Christ the King Parish was then entrusted to the Congregation of Holy Cross, with Father Peter Miner, CSC, appointed the first pastor.
The new church building was begun in 1934, with members helping. Many of the hired workers even volunteered to be paid every other day, to offset the cost of construction. Called “the little white church,” the first Mass was celebrated in 1935.
Christ the King School was founded in 1955, after demand for Catholic education grew larger than a joint parish school at St. Mary’s College could accommodate. Holy Cross sisters served with lay teachers in the first- through eighth-grade building.
The parish also outgrew the original church building. The current building was dedicated in 1961 and was designed by Father Clement Funke, CSC. Alterations were made in the 1980s, when the high altar and side altars were removed; the marble from them was used to construct the current altar, ambo and tabernacle stand. In 1997 the sanctuary was renovated, and in 2011 stained glass windows of the life of Jesus and Mary were added.
Currently, Christ the King Parish serves over 1,400 registered families and more than 500 students at the Christ the King School.
“The vitality of the parish can be seen in its thriving religious education program, the diversity of parish ministries and the enthusiastic involvement of parishioners in all facets of parish life,” said Father Lacroix. “We thank God for the many blessings that He has given to our parish community over the past 75 years and pray that we may remain faithful to our call to make God known, loved and served. “Looking into the future, we just want to keep growing and keep evangelizing. There is so much good happening here, but we can never rest on our laurels.”
Christ the King
52473 SR 933
South Bend, IN 46637
Sunday: 7, 8:45, 10:30 a.m.;
Holy Day: 7, 8:30 a.m.; 7 p.m.
Weekday: M-Sat. 8 a.m.
Sat. 9-10 a.m. or by appointment.
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