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About Our Parish

The Beginning of a Humbled Church

by Norma Villarreal

In 1927 a catechism center was established in what is now Christ The King Catholic Church. Prior to this date, in the 1920s, five families led by Mr. Jose Patino asked the Adoration Sisters to provide religious instruction and services to this area to counter a movement by a Protestant Church to draw members away. By 1927, participation in religious activities had increased tremendously and the same five families petitioned Archbishop Desserts for a church and a priest. The Archbishop assigned the Claretian Missionaries to staff the new church that was named San Geronimo. The parishioners built the church themselves. By this time the Sisters had left and were replaced by the Cordi-Marian Sisters in 1927. San Geronimo was dedicated on March 4, 1928. Fr. Geronimo, CMF was the first pastor.

San Geronimo lasted but a short time. It was partially destroyed by a fire in November of 1928. Aided by a donation from the Catholic Extension Society; Fr. Pomes repaired the church and complying with the request of the donor who funded the restoration, Fr. Pomes renamed the church, Santa Isabel. During the next sixteen years, the Parish of Santa Isabel grew to a population of nine hundred families. In dire need for a new building, Father Vicente Andres, CMF, develop plans to build a new church. This was not an easy feat as World War ll was in progress and materials were scarce. Never-the-less, the parishioners of Santa Isabel proceeded to take on the building of the new church and sponsored many fundraisers to gather the necessary funds. The weekly making and selling of tamales were one of the most successful fundraisers for this project which led to the birth of our church, Christ the King which was coined "The Church that Tamales Built”. On October 22, 1944, The Most Reverend Archbishop Robert E. Lucey blessed and dedicated the new church under the patronage of Christ The King.

Growing Through Change

On May 2, 1954, Christ the King Catholic Church reached a new milestone in its history, with its newly dedicated parochial elementary school by Archbishop Lucey. The Cordi-Marian Sisters held classes in their convent on Morales Street. Later the sisters transitioned the classes to the parish hall. In 1966, Fr. Augustin Cubillo, CMF, recognized the need for additional classrooms, a library, and a cafeteria for the parish school. Construction began and the new addition was dedicated in January of 1967 by Bishop Steven F. Leven.

In the spring of 1969, the end of a half-century of continuous service by the Claretian Missionaries sadly came to an end. On June 4, 1969, the archdiocesan clergy of San Antonio assumed the spiritual leadership of the parish and Father Larry J. Matula was named Pastor of Christ the King, and Father Kramer was named as the church's Assistant Pastor.

Later through the years, Christ the King underwent a Parish Development Campaign under the guidance of Father Matula. The campaign was to determine the parish's present and future direction. The outcome of the campaign resulted in the revamping of the CCD program; the formation of a High School of Religion, and the establishment of a Parish Council. In July of 1972, at the direction of Vatican II to modernize the Catholic Church, Christ the King at twenty-five years old undergoes remodeling, where the interior of the building was redesigned for modernization as instructed by the Holy See. The completed Christ the King was blessed by Archbishop Francis J. Furey on January 4, 1973. 

Fr. Matula left Christ the King in January 1982. He was followed by Msgr. Balthazar (Balti) Janacek. Fr. Janacek was widely known in San Antonio for his support of social causes and the belief in the self-determination of people. His style of leadership enabled parishioners to take a more active role in the self-management of the parish. Fr. Balty’s tenure ended in the summer of 1994, which was the same year, Christ the King celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

Father Richard Pena took the leadership of Christ The King from 1994-2006. In 2005, the Cordi-Marian Sisters ended their 78 years of faithful service to Christ the king.

Father Larry Mattingly, a Franciscan Friar, served Christ the King from 2006-2012. During his leadership, Christ the King started hosting Acts retreats for men, women, and teenagers. These retreats were delivered in English and Spanish. The attendance of parishioners began to increase, which resulted in the birth of new ministries.

In early 2012, Fr. Mike Horan served Christ The King from 2012-2019. Father Mike's presence played a part in an increase of attendance at mass, participation in parish activities, and the enrollment of new parishioners had greatly increased. In 2014, Christ The King celebrated its 70th Anniversary. This new milestone has encountered challenges, where we as a community are called to meet the needs of our sisters and brother and to heed the voice of the Holy Spirit giving birth to new horizons and approaches in the spreading of the Good News of the Gospel. 

Looking to the Future

Times change; some things fall, and some things do not last forever. The once-popular elementary school at Christ the King closed as it did not survive the changing times. The pillars who made Christ the King a very tight, united, active, family-oriented community are now gone, but the fruits of their labor remain. Like in most cultures, the young may leave the “nest”, but they never forget where home is, where our foundation was built. The descendants, who remained and returned continue with the love and wisdom of the past, and still proclaim His almighty grace. Now the third and fourth generations are emerging, with the same desire to lead and teach the Gospel.

The demographics vary, we are blessed to have many elders in the community. Despite the financial disadvantages of our community, the burning desire to educate the children remains a priority.  The age of the church is evident by its structure in some areas, and the surrounding homes show depreciation, but what remains new and thriving in our community is our strong and rich faith. Adoration to our Lord and devotion to our Blessed Mother of Jesus is paramount.

The church will soon celebrate its seventy-five years of existence and the Holy Spirit timely welcomes His new son and servant. We are now blessed with a new generation priest, Father Praveen Lakkisetti, who recently celebrated his second anniversary as an ordained priest. Father Praveen joined our community in July of 2019.  Father brings the fire of evangelization of the Gospel and the love for Christ in Adoration to all of us. Father Praveen in tune with technology uses social media to proclaim the Word of God to all.

Proverbs 8:17  I love those who love me and those who seek me diligently find me.

 


Our Beloved Friars

 

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