Christ the King Church was founded in 1940 to serve the African-American Catholics in High Point, and has since become a multi-ethnic parish celebrating both the diversity and unity of the Catholic faith and tradition. Then-Bishop Eugene F. McGuinness of Raleigh invited the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement of Graymoor, NY to staff the new mission in High Point in 1940. Father Bernardine Watson served as the first pastor, originally celebrating Mass in a funeral home. Through the generosity and perseverance of Father Watson and several benefactors, a clothing shop was acquired for use by the mission. While Mass continued to be celebrated there during much of 1941, the mission community members also turned their attention to building a new church and rectory on Kivett Drive. The new colonial-style church was dedicated by Bishop McGuinness Dec. 14, 1941.
During the 1940s and into the ’50s, the Christ the King parish community continued to grow. A school building and convent were built in 1949, and in 1950 the Franciscan Handmaids arrived from New York City to staff the school. The African-American communities, both Catholic and non-Catholic, of High Point, Thomasville and Greensboro were served by the new Christ the King School, which opened its doors to 50 students in September 1950. The friars continued their pastorate in High Point for the next several decades, cultivating a faith community that became continually more culturally diverse over time. A stained-glass window behind the church’s choir loft depicts that diversity, with Jesus surrounded by four individuals representing the African, Asian, European and Indian bloodlines that make up much of the parish community today.
Lowering enrollment, financial difficulties and the recalling of the sisters to New York forced Christ the King School to close in 1981. The diocesan office of education converted the school for use as a day care center, which began its operation in August 1981. That same year, Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement arrived at Christ the King Church to conduct the religious education program and other ministerial work, including assisting at the day care center. The center, still located on parish grounds, is now privately operated and continues to serve the area.
Upon the friars’ leaving High Point in 1991, Christ the King Church became a diocesan parish in December of that year. Fathers Martin Madison and John Hoover served the parish until December 1994, when Father Philip Kollithanath, was appointed to Christ the King Church. Assisting in the advancing growth of the Christ the King community have been many commissions and ministries focusing on the spiritual , educational, multicultural and evangelical dimensions of the parish. Parishioners gather to engage in Bible study , to learn English as a Second Language, to put their faith into action in the local community and to celebrate their ethnicity. A Hispanic center and bilingual religious education program provide sharing and learning opportunities for English and Spanish speaking parishioners, and the parish African-American Ministry offers outreach programs benefiting the local region. The Women’s Guild, Altar Guild, 55+ Club and Young & Spirited Group are active in parish and community services, and the evangelization commission provides for the spiritual needs of homebound parishioners through its Visitation Ministry. The community of Christ the King Church looks ahead to expansion and renovation projects that will accommodate the needs of a growing parish. One hundred and sixty-one households currently make up the parish registry.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We begin our Lenten season with ashes as a symbol of penance, of dying to our sins and then we end our Lenten season with water of baptism at Easter vigil, as a symbol of rebirth, of new life in the resurrection of Jesus. So Lent is a journey with Jesus, a journey from death to life, a journey from dying to our sins to a new life in Jesus.
This Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, as we continue our journey with Jesus, Jesus invites us to enter the desert with him as the gospel of this Sunday says: “At once the Spirit drove him out to the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty, tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:12-13).
We, Christians possess the most valuable treasure in the world: Jesus Christ is among us and within us. Sometimes we are out of touch, out of touch with the treasure that we possess, and out of touch with the riches that we already have. Why? Perhaps, we focus much on some of the external dimensions of life. We are tempted to identity ourselves with material possessions, with earthly riches, with social positions, with fame. But we miss something. We are like someone who just looks at the outside of the box while missing the treasure inside the box. While focusing on material riches we forget the treasure which we have and possess in our life, that is the Lord, the Lord of life and of our being.
The journey with the Jesus during Lent is a journey of spiritual discovery. Jesus invites us to go to the desert with him in order to discover ourselves, to recognize who and what we are. Even though we are sinners and unworthy to be with the Lord, but the Lord has granted us grace to possess the Lord in our life. Let us joyfully journey with the Lord during this holy season. All of the practices we do during Lent, our daily prayers, daily Mass, Stations of the cross on Fridays, fasting, reconciliation with the Lord and with others, all of these practices are wonderful ways of strengthening our spiritual lives. They remind us that we each have the capability of making the Lord present in the world. God can and will use each of us to transform the world if we just allow him to be with us.
Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem to transform the world. He invites us to join Him on the journey during this Lent. May our Lent be for each of us a journey of discovery, the discovery of the Life of Christ within us. That is the most valuable gift we have in our life.
May God bless us all!