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.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ
There are two widows mentioned in today’s readings. The first one is from the First book of Kings, the widow at Zeraphath. In time of famine, she gave all the food she had to Elijah and God rewarded her and her son to survive the drought and famine. The second one is the widow in the Gospel of Mark 12. Jesus observed people made donations to the Temple, and he praised the poor widow for giving all she had, even a few cents, to God since she had a greater need, the need for God in her life.
Together with the whole Church, this Sunday we celebrate Stewardship Sunday. We indeed celebrate our joy for returning to God what we have received from Him. It’s not easy to give, but it truly brings joy. The stories of the widows in today’s readings are important for us all. They teach us about how important it is to have a correct inner motive for our actions. They teach us that God notices our inmost thoughts and judges us accordingly. They teach us the importance of generosity and the need to depend on God when we have nothing else.
For the people of faith, stewardship means: God gives it all, then calls us to share Time, Talent and Treasure. These are the three main areas of stewardship. A steward is someone who is entrusted with that which belongs to someone else. We are entrusted with the Kingdom of God. As good stewards we give from our needs, our need for more time to do the necessities of life, and our need to use our blessings to care for ourselves and our families. But there is a greater need in our lives. That is the need for the Lord and His Kingdom.
If we look around we can see that many people are afraid of future. Since they think that they are living in uncertain times, so there is a tendency for them to pull back, to think about “me” and “mine.” The widows didn’t think that way. They gave all. They were great stewards. To hold back is not a wise decision for one day we will give it all back. A heart attack, an illness, an accident and we will render everything back to the One who is responsible for who and what we are.
May the Lord fill us with wisdom and courage as we continue to use our Time, Talent and Treasure to serve the Lord and His Kingdom.
— Fr. Joe