Christ the King Church in Bayberry is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, having opened its doors in 1964.
In order to commemorate the occasion, the church will hold an open house this Sunday, May 18, after its 10:30 a.m. Mass.
“We’re inviting everyone to gather together and see what we’re about and what makes us a parish,” said Father James Fritzen, who took over as pastor of the church in 2004. “The people are very warm, welcoming people. They’re very welcoming to accept others who come along.”
The church, located at 21 Cherry Tree Circle in Bayberry, was originally built under the guidance of Bishop Walter Andrew Foery, head of the Syracuse Diocese, in the 1960s. Foery acquired 12 acres in Bayberry shortly after the planned community was constructed and erected a one-story multi-purpose building.
“They would put up partitions and chairs on Sunday night in preparation for children’s religious education classes during the week,” Fritzen said. “Then on the weekend, they would take down the partitions and rearrange the chairs to have church.”
The building was dedicated as a church in the spring of 1964. Then, on Sept. 13, 1964, under the guidance of Fr. James McCloskey, Christ the King held its first mass. A convent was added in 1966, where the Sisters of St. Francis lived while teaching religious ed. classes to Bayberry’s children.
Though things have certainly changed, Christ the King has held onto a good portion of its original population.
“We still have many of the charter members of the parish,” Fritzen said.“The congregation has aged, but there are younger families moving in. It’s evident in the baptisms that I do.”
Fritzen said he believed the church has done well because of the involvement of its parishioners, as well as the nature of worship at Christ the King.
“The church has thrived because of the dedication of the people, their desire to truly worship the Lord and rely on Him to carry them through life,” he said. “We do have a number of people who have joined with us as they kind of ‘shop around’ [for a church]. One of the deciding factors is that we do focus on the liturgies in our worship. We try to have everything flow from the altar — all of our events and activities flow from what we are as a faith community.”
Fritzen invited all members of the community to take part in the semicentennial celebration.
“If people have strayed from the church, our door is open and we welcome them home,” he said. “Our 50th anniversary might just be the time for them to look again and fill the hunger and the thirst they’re suffering from spiritually.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.