Christ The King Parish
Serving Parishioners of the Comox Valley
 

CTK Church History

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The Catholic Community of the Comox Valley has come a long way since the first Oblate Fathers from south of the border came to instruct and baptize the indigenous people of the local area. Although the first Comox Valley settlers arrived in 1862, many were single men who later moved on. In 1878, Diocesan Bishop Seghers, accompanied by Father Brabant, paid his first visit to the Comox missions. Priests from Nanaimo came once in six weeks when weather permitted. By the 1880s Catholic families began to settle in the Comox Valley. They required more resources for their spiritual lives than was offered by the sixteen-foot room near the wharf which Joe Rodello provided for their use.


In 1885 the Church of St. John the Baptist (picture on left) was
built at Comox, damaged by a falling tree, and rebuilt. Lumber from the mills was shipped to the wharf and cartage from there was one dollar a load. Although in use in 1886, the Church was neither officially opened nor assigned a parish priest until 1888. This delay was due to the murder of Bishop Seghers while visiting Alaskan missions. Father Durrand was the Comox Valley’s first Catholic priest.The Church was originally built to seat 80. As the settlements grew and the Catholic population dispersed over a larger area, the little church did not meet their needs.


St. John the Evangelist Church (picture above on right) was built in Cumberland in 1895 to serve the mine workers. This had a significant addition in 1911. In 1913, four sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph of Toronto arrived to found a general hospital, providing health care and spiritual support.


In 1937 Canadian Martyrs Parish was established to serve the area’s youngest, fastest growing community of Courtenay. The Church (picture on left) was dedicated the following year, was designed to seat 260, and was pastored by Father Carl Albury. In 1940 Canadian Martyrs Parish hosted the Second Diocesan Eucharistic Congress. This was attended by religious and lay representatives and participants from all parishes, missions and institutions in the Diocese of Victoria, and some from as far distant as Ottawa.


Holy Cross Church (picture on right) on Hornby Island was built on land donated by a parishioner in 1944, and officially blessed in 1950. This tiny chapel still has occasional services.


An addition to the Comox Church was built in 1978, which was to be used as church or hall, including some kitchen and washroom facilities. At its Centennial in 1986, St. John the Baptist was designated a Heritage Site by the Comox town council.


 

All through the 1970s the parishes continued to flourish and it became apparent that the existing facilities were inadequate for the growing congregations. In 1985 Bishop Remi De Roo decided to amalgamate the local parishes into one Catholic community. Father Ken Bernard, who was then the pastor for Courtenay and Cumberland, was also given the responsibility for Comox and Hornby Island. An interim pastoral council was formed to begin the process of unifying the parishes. A survey was conducted among the parishioners to find a name for the new community. At Christmas Midnight Mass in 1985, Father Bernard announced that Christ the King, Catholic Community of the Comox Valley, was the approved choice. In the summer of 1986 Father John Laszczyk became pastor of the new community, which he served for the next 15 years.


A ten-acre parcel of land adjacent to Ryan Road was acquired and the present structure completed, and dedicated on Saturday, June 6, 1992. As a millennium project a grotto to Our Lady (picture on left) was built in a quiet location on the church grounds. The grotto, which was a combined effort of the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, was blessed by Father John on March 25, 2000. Renovations and upgrading of the church to current seismic standards was undertaken in 2001.


To serve the now over 1000 households, Father Kazimierz Oleksy, SDS, succeeded Father John in 2001 and Father Slawomir Sciechowski, SDS, followed in 2002. In the summer of 2003, Father Alfonso Valeza arrived from the Philippines to take up duties as Parish Administrator. A new full-time pastor, Fr. Paul Murphy, was appointed and installed in 2004.  In July of 2010 Fr. Marek Paczka took over from Fr. Paul Murphy.

 

Date last updated: 11 July 2011

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