March 28, 2017 // Parish
The neighborhood parish of Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi Parish is situated in a subdivision on land surrounded by large trees, creating such a tranquil setting that one almost forgets that the bustle of city life lies just a few blocks away. “It is incredibly peaceful here,” said longtime parishioner Becky Megyese. “I knew this was my home the first time I came here.”
Corpus Christi Church was established in 1898 by Belgian immigrants. The church was originally called Sacred Heart and was located on Thomas Street, in the downtown area. The young Father Henry Paanaker, CSC, who was ordained at Notre Dame in 1896, was its first pastor.
As the years passed many parishioners took to moving out of downtown. Bishop Leo A. Pursley suggested in 1960 that it might be time to look for a new location for the parish, somewhere in northwest South Bend. Msgr. Elmer G. Peterson found the church’s present location, and the diocese purchased the 29-acre farm.
A groundbreaking for the new parish took place in June 1961. The school was finished first, in September 1962, and Mass was held in the school basement. Msgr. Elmer Peterson served as Corpus Christi’s first pastor. Succeeding pastors were Father Joseph Horvath, Father Denis Blank, Father Camillo Tirabassi and current pastor Father Daryl Rybicki.
The parish continued to grow, and by 1980 there was need for a larger church building. Unfortunately, the church lacked the necessary funds to build. However, the power of prayer is not to be underestimated. Six members of the Legion of Mary read about the practice of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and in February of 1981 a Holy Hour Program began at the parish that has continued uninterrupted ever since. Due to the power of prayer, persistence and dedication, permission was eventually given to build a new church. Ground was broken on Sunday, July 22, 1984, during a ceremony at which Bishop Joseph R. Crowley officiated. The church was dedicated on June 9, 1985. Father Blank called the new church, “The House That Prayer Built” and dedicated it to his parishioners of such great faith.
Parish life today
The parish continues its longstanding devotion to the holy Eucharist through an adoration chapel. “It is a great blessing,” said Father Rybicki, who has been at the parish since 2009. “I am told that Corpus Christi was the first parish in the area, perhaps, the first in the diocese, to have an adoration chapel and regular adoration times.” The chapel is open for adoration from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. most days, with adoration beginning on Sundays at 1 p.m., after Masses are concluded.
Corpus Christi has a long history of members’ involvement in all aspects of the parish, even the architecture. Parishioner Madelyn Nowinski designed the beautiful stained glass windows in the church and the outdoor statue of the Blessed Mother which serves as a memorial to Father Blank.
Father Rybicki calls the parish “ideal” for him. “It is small enough for me, as pastor, to get to know a large number of my parishioners, but large enough to provide many opportunities for ministry and involvement of the parishioners. In many ways, a parish this size allows me to function as ‘pastor’ or ‘shepherd’ of the flock entrusted to my care, since I usually celebrate all our weekend Masses as well as our daily Masses and other devotions and activities,” he said.
The parish currently serves 650 families, and many second and third generations attend the church and school. The school has been open for 56 years. Students attend Mass twice a week and engage in traditional Catholic observances such as a full May procession and crowning of Mary, and a procession through the neighborhood for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in June, followed by a parish picnic.
“My four children graduated from Corpus Christi,” said parishioner Becky Megyese, “and all my grandchildren will graduate from here as well. This parish means so much to me and my family. When we have problems, the Blessed Sacrament is always available to us. Father Daryl is the most compassionate and caring pastor any parish could have. He works tirelessly in his efforts to bring us closer to God.”
2822 Corpus Christi Dr.
South Bend, IN 46628
Saturday vigil: 5 p.m.
Sunday: 8, 10:30 a.m.
Weekday M-W-F 6:30, 8 a.m.; T-Th 8 a.m.; 5:30 p.m. Sat. 8 a.m.
Reconciliation: Saturday 9 a.m.; 3 p.m.; T and Th 5 p.m. and by appointment.
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