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,
From the second reading of this Sunday we consider a very important message from St. Paul: “For the Jews demand signs and the Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1Cor. 1:22-24).
People in the Scriptures always looked for signs of God’s presence, especially for a sign of the coming of the Messiah. Jesus Himself performed many signs to help people recognize the presence of the Messiah among them: the changing of water into wine at Cana, the healing of the official’s servant, the raising of a widow’s son from dead to life, and many other miracles; they are signs of the power of the Son of God.
And the last sign to show the power of Jesus is his rising from the dead. However, this sign, the sign of the cross, was a complete paradox. It became a stumbling block to the Jews and intelligent Greeks since in their eyes the cross was a sign of capital punishment, of failure and of death. It was so difficult for people to see, to recognize the true power of Jesus who indeed accepted to be dead on the cross for humankind’s salvation. St. Paul made it clear: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1Cor.1:25). Christ’s power was seen in His absolute submission to the Father’s will, in His absolute weakness.
Human beings tortured Jesus and murdered Him. In the eyes of these humans, if Christ had power He should have come down from the cross and destroyed his enemies; but God called Him to conquer, not the power of these Roman soldiers or religious leaders, but the power of evil, the power of death which is much stronger than human power. By dying, by embracing what humans saw as weakness, Jesus unleashed the greatest power the world has ever seen, the power of a sacrificial Love, the Power of the Cross.
Lent invites us to look intensively at the cross of our Lord, to consider the wisdom found in the cross. The wisdom that we need as Christians is the wisdom of God. We are to totally submit ourselves to the will of God, to take up our daily cross to follow the way of Jesus. It may be foolish to many, but as St. Paul insists, the foolishness of God is wiser than all human wisdom.
May God bless us all!