Christ the King Parish celebrates 60 years

TRUMBULL—As the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe on November 20, a small parish in Trumbull had a celebration of its own.

Christ the King Parish on Madison Avenue commemorated the 60th anniversary of its founding with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and a community gathering. Founded in 1962 as Most Precious Blood Church, the parish was renamed Christ the King in 1974.

“It is important to celebrate this milestone and recognize who we are as a community,” said Father Richard Gemza, Christ the King’s pastor.

The importance of community resonated throughout the ministries of the parish and its members. Longtime parishioner MaryAnn DeFusco helped coordinate the celebration. As a trustee for over 40 years, she has seen the dedication that members have show both to the church and to each other.

“We are an exceptionally close-knit family of parishioners working and praying together,” she said. “We have been blessed over the years with caring pastors and religious personnel whose vision and guidance have helped create a parish of which we are very proud.”

Father Gemza himself, who has been pastor for the past year, has seen this close-knit atmosphere firsthand, feeling fortunate to be in a place which he called “welcoming and community-minded.”

“In my short time here, I’ve seen people who are very involved in their faith and parish community,” he said. “It’s one of those places where everyone checks in on everyone else.”

Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Caggiano were Father Gemza and former pastors Father Terrence Walsh and Father Lawrence Carew.

In his homily acknowledging both the Feast of Christ the King and the Trumbull parish named after it, the bishop recalled a visit to the Tower of London where he viewed the Crown Jewels, which by earthly standards, he said, were “quite impressive,” especially the singular diamond soon to be worn by the newly appointed King Charles III, when British subjects will soon pledge allegiance to him.

However, at one time, the same tower also held the martyrs St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, who pledged allegiance to another king and stood for the law of God.

“Jesus is our king—of the universe and of all creation,” Bishop Caggiano said. “Consider the allegiance this demands of us. What matters is love, and the faith and hope to pledge that allegiance. The king we give allegiance to is the shepherd of love.”

And what treasures do those jewels have?

“Jesus giving his life for us—that is a treasure,” the bishop said. “He asks those who stand with him to do for others. Commit to love for saints and sinners, for those we care about and for those we don’t.”

In preparation for Advent, the bishop said, “It is time for you and me to look in the mirror and ask how are we failing in our allegiance to Christ the King? Let us make this allegiance today, so 60 years from now, people may be saying that they were able to stand with the only king that mattered.”

As the bishop commented on this milestone, he shared his delight in celebrating the day, and quipped the parish was only three years younger than he is. This is a family, he said, that has grown for 60 years, all in allegiance to Christ.

As Mass concluded, several members presented him with a gift: a framed, crocheted image of Christ, handmade by parishioner Alberta Ceresa.

A gathering was later held in the parish center, where parishioners enjoyed cake and coffee and shared memories of their time at Christ the King. Gilda Palatiello, a founding member from 1962, said she can still recall the early days.

“Now I’m just so used to this church and the community,” she said. “I don’t even think about how many years it’s really been.”

Kristen Geraghty joined the parish in 1992 with her parents and now attends Mass at Christ the King with her husband and three children.

“I heard what the bishop said about this being a family,” she said. “I’ve seen the same families come through and grow as parishioners. There are so many faces that hold so many memories.”

By Emily Clark