Paola celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Dedication of Christ the King Parish Church
Tomorrow 20th November marks the launch of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Christ the King parish Church in Paola. The celebrations mark the fifty years since Archbishop Michael Gonzi dedicated the parish church in Paola on June 3rd 1967. This event in the history of the parish is being marked with a number of liturgical, cultural and social activities over a period of twelve months.
Canon Marc Andre Camilleri, parish priest of Christ the King Parish in Paola said “This anniversary is an important milestone in the history of the parish. It is a moment when we can look at the past with a sense of satisfaction at what has been achieved, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. Although the face of the world, of Malta and also of Paola changed considerably over the years, the parish church did not become a relic of past glory but a living monument of the constant courage and faith of the Paola community”.
The Organising Committee, appointed by the same parish priest to oversee the programme for the anniversary year, has planned a number of activities linked to important dates in the history of the parish. Every celebration is aimed at a specific category of the community - children, youths, elderly, the sick and even residents of the Corradino Corrective Facility, which is located within the confines of the parish. The activities are inspired by the acts of mercy reference to which is found in the Gospel of St Matthew.
These celebrations will serve as an appreciation by the parish to the protagonists of this event, to pay tribute to Architect Guze Damato, who was the brains and the heart behind the building of the new church, to pay tribute to the parish priests who served in the parish since the idea was first mooted up to where it is today and also to show appreciation to those who in one way or other contributed or are still contributing to the building of the church .
The celebrations will reach their climax on June 3rd of next year when Archbishop Charles J Scicluna will lead a concelebrated pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving and, in consonance with one of the acts of mercy “I was in prison and you came to visit me”, arrangements have been made with the authorities of the Corradino Corrective Facility so that the celebration on that day will continue within the precincts of the Corrective Facility with the participation of the residents at the Facility.
The cultural activities during the year include an Orchestral Concert by the St Paul’s Chamber Ensemble, an exhibition about the history of the parish, which will be open to the general public, the production of a documentary, the publication of a commemorative book by three authors and a concert by the bands of the two local band clubs on the same stage.
The motto chosen for this event aimed at emphasizing the unity within the parish is “One Parish, One Aim and One King”.
During the past few years, a programme of maintenance and embellishment of this church, which is the largest in Malta, was embarked on not only to create a more appropriate environment where the Christian looks for and finds his Creator but also to show the Maltese public, and the large number of overseas visitors, the faith and love which the Paolites have for their parish.
Amongst the projects which are currently under way and some of which will be inaugurated during the anniversary year include the guilding of most of the church, the stucco apostles which adorn the central nave , the beautiful paintings which are decorating all the side altars and especially the four very large canvasses which depict scenes from the life of Christ which affirm his kingship, the completion of the church’s presbytery and new Altar of the Blessed Sacrament together with recent restoration of the old Church pulpit ( made by four master carpenters from Paola and donated to the church) and the choir stalls. T he largest of the projects meant to commemorate this anniversary is the completion of the choir loft above the main door of the church.
The parish of Paola dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was founded by Bishop Pietro Pace in 1910 and the parish church which served the pastoral needs of the community at the time was that of St Ubaldesca, built by Grand Master Antoine de Paule in 1630. The corner stone of the new parish church was laid on the 24th February 1924 and the new church became the parish church on the 14th April 1936.
At the request of the parishioners of the time, the Ecclesiastical Authorities gave their approval for the titular of the parish to be changed to that of Christ the King in 1945.
The completion of the building of the new parish church was marked by the installation of a marble cross on the dome on the 13th December 1959.
Archbishop Michael Gonzi flanked by Mgr Emmanuel Brincat and Mgr Franceso Xuereb during the ceremony of the dedication of the Parish Church on 3rd June 1967
The church as it is today