When Monsignor Arthur Slade was pastor of Holy Trinity in Glen Burnie in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, USA, in the 1960s, he dreamed of building a bigger church. Instead, two missions that eventually became their own parishes formed: Church of the Good Shepherd and Church of the Crucifixion.
Today, all three of those communities are united as a single parish known as Christ the King, worshipping at the former Holy Trinity Church and in the auditorium of Monsignor Slade School.
Now, after some 60 years, the dream of building a bigger church in Glen Burnie will become reality.
Parish leaders are moving forward with a plan to sell the church buildings at Crucifixion, Good Shepherd and the former Holy Trinity to erect a new church that will greatly alleviate a space crunch.
After celebrating a bilingual Mass for the Feast of Christ the King on 21st November at the Monsignor Slade School Auditorium, more than 550 parishioners from different cultures and backgrounds processed with the Blessed Sacrament to where the new church will be built on Dorsey Road.
Father T. Austin Murphy Jr., pastor of Christ the King (which is part of a pastorate that includes St. Bernadette in Severn), noted that Christ the King cares for approximately 4,000 families. Masses are currently celebrated at the former Holy Trinity church, with a capacity of 225. Special feast day Masses are held at the Monsignor Slade School auditorium, which seats 500 people.
“We regularly fill the church and need more Masses in order to accommodate everybody,” Father Murphy said. “Building a larger church is a good solution to bring more people together at the same time to reduce the stress on the priest of celebrating multiple Masses and also to centralize ourselves in one place.”
Sunday Masses include three Masses in English and three in Spanish. According to Father Murphy, the Hispanic population comprises 60 percent of the parish.
Jorge Hernández, coordinator of Hispanic Ministry at Christ the King, said numerous times parishioners find themselves in four different places and do not know each other when they go to big events in the auditorium.
“I think the new temple is going to be a bridge so the different communities, especially the Hispanic and Anglo, within our parish come together,” said the native of Usulután, El Salvador.
He also mentioned Father Murphy has been working on building this bridge for the diverse community by celebrating Mass in Spanish and assigning associate pastor Father Diego Rivera to English Masses.
“Sometimes we have to rehearse at our houses because there are not enough rooms available for us to practice,” said Araceli Ortiz, a member of one of the four Hispanic choirs at the parish.
Despite the feelings of nostalgia toward the former church buildings, Father Murphy said the community has acknowledged the needs of the parish today.
Richard and Michelle Peifer, parishioners of the Holy Trinity for 29 years and four years of Christ the King, are looking forward to unity in the church.
“It is important to build a new church so we can all come together as one because right now we are kind of separated,” Richard Peifer said.
“I think the reason is because our current worship spaces are not large enough to accommodate all of us,” added Michelle Peifer. “Our family has worshipped in the auditorium for 30 years, so it will be wonderful to be able to worship in a space that really honors the glory of God.”
Due to the age of the three existing churches, maintenance expenses are high.
“We have financial obligations to all those spaces,” Father Murphy said. “It is a drain on our resources to have to pay for all those different places at the same time, particularly when not all of them are generating an income for the parish.”
The new church will have predominantly modern features and incorporate elements from the previous worship spaces. For example, statues from the previous churches will be restored. In honor of the devotion of the Hispanics in the parish, an image or statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be also displayed. The new worship space will seat 800 people.
Most of the investment will go to the interior of the church, Father Murphy said.
JRS Architects, Inc. in Baltimore, a local company that has previously worked with the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is the architect in charge of designing the new church.
Father Murphy estimates the church will cost $8 million and open in 2025, if all goes as planned. In addition to money raised in the sales of existing properties, the parish hopes to launch a capital campaign.
“The fact we are a parish that needs to build a new church means we are growing,” Father Murphy said. “The Holy Spirit is forcing us to move forward and I think a lot of people feel the same way.”
Story courtesy of Priscila González de Doran at pdoran@CatholicReview.org