With approximately 3,000 people, St. Anthony was one of the largest parishes in the Des Moines Diocese in 1935 and the only parish located in the rapidly growing Southside of Des Moines. To accommodate the Catholic servicemen, their families, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) members, and those families living beyond Watrous Avenue (the then existing southern city limit), Mass was celebrated not only at Saint Anthony Catholic Church but also at a nondenominational chapel within Fort Des Moines.
Christ the King Parish was established in 1939 by Bishop Gerald T Bergan to alleviate crowded conditions at St. Anthony Parish. The 2.5 acre parcel of land, bordered by Wall Street (a dirt road) and S.W. Ninth Street (a two-lane paved road), was obtained for a second parish on Des Moines' Southside. The new parish’s territory in 1939 included everything south of Watrous Avenue. It was dedicated with the name of Christ the King Catholic Church. For quite some time, it was better known as the Fort Des Moines Church, due to the large military installation four blocks south that gave the whole area its name.
Father Thomas Moriarity, then Business Manager for Dowling College, was appointed pastor of the new Christ the King Parish on Friday, April 19, 1940. When asked why the church was not named after a saint, Father Moriarity replied, “What better name can you give than Christ, Himself.” Father Moriarity served the parish until 1953.
Christ the King Parish consisted of approximately 250 families when it was formed. More than 500 people filled the new church for the dedication ceremonies, held Sunday, January 26, 1941.
Father John Aldera, who became pastor in 1953, stated in a newspaper article that in 1955, Christ the King parish had 405 families totaling 1,771 members. In these earliest years, Christ the King had no parish school, so the children of the parish were bussed to either Saint Anthony or Saint Ambrose, depending upon their ages.
Des Moines was in an expansion mode in the 1950s and 1960s, along with the young Christ the King Parish. The airport was annexed into the city of Des Moines in 1955, a big share of Bloomfield township in 1957, and an area south of Watrous Avenue to County Line Road. The young parish continued to grow and prosper. On Sunday September 23, 1956, Father Aldera conducted a mortgage burning celebration.
Christ the King school opened its doors to 150 pupils in grades five through eight; children in the lower grades still attended Saint Ambrose. The building was officially dedicated on October 25, 1959.
An addition completed in 1968 expanded the seating capacity of the church by 200. In 1971, a mission of Christ the King, which would later be named Saint Elizabeth Seton, was established in Carlisle.
Father Aldera served 15 years as pastor until his retirement on November 18, 1968.
Other former pastors and co-pastors of the parish are: Father Gerald Deere(1968-1971), Father Eugene Koch (1971-1972), Father Michael Churchman (1972-1978), Father Lawrence Burns (1978-1985), Father Vincent Rosonke (1985-1990), Father David Polich (1990-97) and Fr. Al Sherbo (1997-2001). Msgr. Frank Bognanno is the current pastor of Christ the King, which now lists 1,326 households as of January 2011.
In 1995, the parish launched a $1.6 million Capital Campaign to engage in a major face lift of current buildings and the construction of an additional building for the future. The fund drive and the work, which is made possible because of it, continue under the direction of the Capital Campaign Committee.
Because of the Capital Campaign drive, the Church was able to do many renovations in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and into 2000. These renovations were made in all four of the buildings that Christ the King has — the Church, the Convent, the Rectory, and the School. Some major renovations are:
Three major renovations were completed in 1999-2000:
People could obtain information about our parish information by the internet. Christthekingparish.org was connected to the web in April 2001.
A memorial brick plaza was added to the front walk. Many parishioners, families and others dedicated a brick to loved ones. A new front entrance canopy was built on the front of the school in the summer of 2001.
Knights of Columbus Council 13159 were formed in July 2002 with 35 men.
Parishioners embarked on a second capital campaign in less than ten years, the goal was to raise over $3 million dollars. The vision was to add 26,000 square feet of space that would include a new parish hall, three classrooms, library, art music rooms and a daycare facility.
Grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary was dedicated on April 29, 2006
Ground breaking ceremonies was held on May 28, 2006. New parish hall, kitchen, art gallery, child care center, school classrooms and other facilities were planned. A dedication of the building and facilities was held on June 10, 2007. The new amenities included: parish hall, kitchen, six classrooms, library, art, music room, daycare area, school office and playground area. The school is now physically connected to the church.
Day Care opened on June 11, 2007 with 52 students. They enjoyed the new facilities, playground and equipment.
Christ the King School celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 25 2009. Students in grades Pre-K to 8th grade number 230. Six classrooms and new office space was added in 2007.
A need for affordable apartments was indicated in a 2006 parish survey. On November 21, 2010 parishioners broke ground on a 5.1 million dollar senior apartment building. The 28 unit complex, located at SW9th and Porter Avenue, opened January 2012.
Under the guidance of the pastor, Monsignor Bognanno, the membership gathers together in neighborhoods to get to know each other and develop fellowship throughout the parish.
Christ the King has embraced a stewardship way of life encouraging all parishioners to give back to the parish and community in Time, Talent and Treasure.
We look forward to the future as a community of believers. We invite you to become a part of our continuing story of faith.