Christ the King History
The history of Christ the King Church is closely interwoven with the growth of the city of Dallas, and particularly with the development of the northwest section of the city.
In October 1940, Bishop Joseph P. Lynch announced plans for a new parish which would embrace that part of the city north of Mockingbird Lane and west of what is now known as Central Expressway, with the parish plan located on Colgate, Preston Road and Westchester.
There were relatively few houses in this vicinity in 1940. The William O’Connor family owned the only home between Preston Road and the Cotton Belt Railroad, with the expectation of a few houses on Colgate and Caruth.
Land was purchased from the O’Connor family and the O’Connor family augmented this purchase with the donation of a generous parcel of land.
Construction of a temporary wooden church at the corner of Westchester and Colgate was begun in February 1941. In May, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Wendelin J. Nold of Sacred Heart Cathedral was appointed the first pastor.
The first mass and solemn blessing of the church took place on June 8, with Bishop Lynch presiding. The new parish started with a membership of 250 families.
The Altar Society was the first parish organization formed and in 1942 the Mens’ Club was organized, which spearheaded the fund raising campaign. This was followed in 1944 by St. Anne’s, which later became the Mothers’ Club. These three organizations worked together toward a common goal - a Catholic school for their children.
In 1948 an organization was formed for young married women, assuming the title of St. Anne’s, which had been relinquished by the Mothers’ Club.
A master plan for Christ the King parish was developed by Msgr. Nold in 1947. It was a far-sighted plan for a parish building program, which included an auditorium-gymnasium and school. The auditorium was to serve temporarily as a church.
In 1946 Bishop Lynch laid the cornerstone. Monsignors W. J. Nold, John Gulczynski and W. J. Bender assisted him.
The school opened in the fall of 1947 under the supervision of the Ursuline Nuns of the Roman Union, an order with a long tradition as outstanding teachers.
On September 27, 1947, His Eminence Samuel Cardinal Stritch of Chicago, Illinois, dedicated the beautiful new school.
By this time the Christ the King parish had grown to 500 families.
In April 1948, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Wilfred J. Bender, who was serving as rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral, was appointed second pastor of Christ the King Church. A native of Minnesota, he had been ordained for the diocese of Dallas in 1935. It took three months for the new pastor to wind up his duties at the cathedral and, in the interim, Father James J. Reilly, assistant pastor, was the interim administrator.
The parish was divided in 1948 when the southwest segment bordering Inwood Road and Lovers Lane was transferred to Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish.
This did not however, sufficiently alleviate the over-crowded condition of the school. In 1951 an additional six classrooms were added. In 1952, 2.16 acres bordering on Westchester were purchased at a cost of $100,000 to augment the athletic field and provide additional parking space.
In 1953, Msgr. Bender appointed a building committee to start work on a new church. Monsignor Bender, Ray Foley and Joselph O. Neuhoff were the members of the building committee. A committee headed by Thomas H. Maher, with J.L. Latimer and Joseph O. Neuhoff serving as co-chairman, was formed to head the drive to raise funds. The church was to cost over $1,000,000 and the goal for the drive was set at $500,000. One hundred and ninety volunteers worked in the parish in a one-day drive. With not only cooperation, but also enthusiasm, the drive was over-subscribed by $150,000.
Mr. Edward Schulte of Cincinnati, Ohio, the architect who had drawn the plans for the auditorium and school, was charged with the task of designing the new church. The contract for the erection of the church was awarded to a former member of the parish, Leo Morgan of E.J. Morgan & Sons.
On the feast of Christ the King, October 30, 1955, His Excellency Bishop Thomas K. Gorman, the fourth Bishop of Dallas, blessed the cornerstone, dedicated the church and the ceremony was followed by a Pontifical Mass. His Excellency Bishop Nold of Galveston-Houston, the first pastor of the church, delivered the sermon.
“For this is ‘none other but the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.’ As such it is dedicated this evening with grave and stately ceremony. It is bedewed with lustral water; it is perfumed with fragrant incense; it is hedged about with prayer. It is removed from profane use and made sacred and consecrate, set apart for the service of the Divine Majesty, made in all reality the House of God and the Court of the Heavenly King.” ---- Taken from Bishop Nold’s sermon.
In 1954 St. Monica’s parish was formed to the west, taking that part of Christ the King parish which lies just west of Inwood Road and north of Northwest Highway.
The parish was divided for the third time in 1961 when St. Rita’s, which takes in the section north of Royal Lane, was formed. The original wooden church from Christ the King served as St. Rita’s Chapel of Ease. Monsignor Bender had the little church sawed in half and the two halves rolled to the present location on Willow Lane, just north of Forest Lane, where it was put together once again to serve as the nucleus of a new parish.
In 1957 work was begun on a convent, built to accommodate eighteen nuns, on the corner of Colgate and Westchester. The convent was dedicated on March 14, 1959, by His Excellency Bishop Thomas K. Gorman for the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, who had taken over the teaching responsibilities for the school from the Ursuline Sisters earlier that year.
When Msgr. Nold first came to Christ the King parish he purchased for us as a rectory a white frame, two-story house on Colgate directly across from the present church. As the parish grew, it became necessary to have two assistants to help with the burden of caring for the growing parish. Not only were the living quarters crowded, but also necessary office space was non-existent.
A new rectory was built in 1960 adjoining the church on the north, facing Preston Road. The rectory was designed by Harwood K. Smith and complements the church in its arrangement and design. The rectory was built to house four assistants as well as the pastor. It has two guest rooms to be used at the time of mission and other religious functions. The public area contained four offices for the priests and four administrative offices (These were all changed into office space in 1994). The rectory was dedicated early in 1961.
In 1969 Msgr. William Botik became the new pastor. The parish continued to grow and develop as the surrounding area experienced similar growth. The school, with one class for grades K-8, grew to an enrollment of 218 students. The parish experienced similar growth and over the next twenty-five years was up to 1200 families and over 2500 parishioners. Building programs in the 1980’s and early 1990’s added a Gymnasium to the school, conversion of the convent to a library and classroom space, a new Parish Center, extra classrooms and laboratories for specialty subjects in the school, a new Bride’s Room in the Church and expanded restrooms in the Church. All of this was completed during the twenty-five year tenure of Msgr. William Botik.
In 1994, Msgr. Donald F. Zimmerman was appointed the new pastor upon Msgr. Botik’s retirement. He immediately addressed the continuing growth needs of the parish by implementing extensive expansion and renovation plans for both the church and the school. The capacity of the school was doubled with the addition of new classrooms, staff offices and special subject space. All the school buildings were renovated and roofs were replaced. Enrollment was doubled to a capacity of 438 students. The Church was extensively renovated, stained glass windows were restored, a new terrazzo floor was installed, pews were refurbished, lighting systems were updated, and a new roof was installed.
In 2005, Msgr. Zimmerman continues as the Pastor of Christ the King Church. Christ the King Parish, with its magnificent church and splendid school has come a long way since Bishop Lynch first authorized its beginning over fifty years ago. Even with three divisions of its territorial limits, Christ the King now numbers over two thousand families and operates a school (K-8) with capacity for 438 students. The congregation has grown to over 6,000 members who are fully involved in the life of the parish, its school and the surrounding community.