Serving the Hancock Park and

Hollywood Communities since 1917

  • The Great Depression
  • World War II
  • Completing the Original Decoration
  • Christ the King Statue

THE GREAT DEPRESSION

ctkinterior1928The Great Depression hit the Rossmore District hard, and scores of parishioners lost their jobs. But if the people were out of work, it meant only more work for Father Corcoran and his assistants (Fathers McDonagh, Purcell, Duggan and O’Sullivan, during those years).

Besides the occasional meals that Father Corcoran provided to unfortunate people who came to his door, he also developed a thorough plan to feed the families of the parish.

Besides the occasional meals that Father Corcoran provided to unfortunate people who came to his door, he also developed a thorough plan to feed the families of the parish.

Had the Depression not hit the parish so hard a school would have been built, or at least plans would have been concretized. As early as January of 1930, Bishop Cantwell had written a letter to Father Corcoran urging him to “Enthuse your people to conform to the mind of the Church and establish a school, even if you have only sixty children.”

However, the financial situation prevented it for the moment. Instead, Father Corcoran turned to the other suggestions that the Bishop put forth in his letter – to insure that his children could attend one of the already-established neighboring schools, even though it meant providing transportation for them. He devised and carried out a plan until 1940 by which the children were taken to the neighboring schools on Yellow Cabs entirely, free.

Other parish associations that were started during this early period were the Altar and Rosary Society, the Holy Name Society, and the beginnings of what would later become a very promising Young People’s Club.


WORLD WAR II HITS L.A.

The area had scarcely recovered from the worst of the Depression when the Second World War suddenly exploded. The southern California area became even more crowded. This time the influx was servicemen on leave or in training at one of the nearby stations, and their families who moved here to be close to them. These new arrivals required spiritual care. This, added to the work that the priests were already doing, became more than could be handled by two men. It was at this time that Father Corcoran was given two assistants, Father Glennon and Father Carroll, who served the parish for the duration of the war. Two demanding tasks that had to be carried out during these years were: the consolation of those who had lost a relative in action; and the work of a very active Volunteer Red Cross, which met weekly in the parish hall to prepare bandages and medicines and to help families that had somehow been affected by the war.

But if Christ the King parish was busy during the war, it was nothing compared to the activity at the end of the forties. The same servicemen who had fallen in love with the California climate, returned as civilians after their discharge, and this time brought their whole families. It would be hard to calculate the exact growth of the area from 1945-1950, but one estimate suggesting a rate of 1,000 people per day seems to small to those who lived here during this period.

Since this growth affected all areas of California, Los Angeles (an archdiocese since 1936) felt an acute shortage of priests; and again the task of ministering to the faithful was left to Father Corcoran and one assistant, Father Peter Conroy, and after 1947, Father John Grew. One of the normal responsibilities of any parish priest, keeping the census up to date, became an onerous job: homes that had housed one family had now been remodeled to house two and even three families. Parish associations were called upon to help even more in the ministry of laity to laity.


COMPLETING THE ORIGINAL DECORATION

sidewindowIt was during this hectic period that the interior of the Church was completed. As the Silver Anniversary of the Parish neared, Father Corcoran was anxious to complete the work started so long ago. Two items in particular were pressing: the stained-glass windows and the murals. Both of these had proven a difficult assignment because the title, “Christ the King,” although ancient in theology was untreated in religious art forms until Pius XII’s encyclical. Father Corcoran was finally able to secure the services of two famous artists to create this new expression.

The renowned stained-glass artist, Joseph Tierney, who had done magnificent work at the new St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, was commissioned to do the series of windows. Complimenting this work, murals were ordered from the Belgian artist, L.G. Martrissael, of the Catholic Art School of Ghent. The most striking of the stained glass windows is the central window above the altar. It depicts the theme of Christ the King. Other stained glass windows depicting the four evangelists of the Gospel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, surround the upper level of the church. It has been said that these stained glass windows are the best in the Archdiocese. The principal murals are in six recessed arched alcoves around the church below the level of the stained glass windows. They depict Christ’s life, beginning with the Annunciation at the west end of the south wall continuing east along the south wall then from east to west along the north wall, ending with the triumphant resurrected Christ.

When the parish celebrated its 25th anniversary, an occasion of spiritual rejoicing noted by the Catholic press of the area, the secular press echoed praise for the beauty of the stately church. The Los Angeles Mirror recorded in superlatives that “the interior beauty of Christ the King Church is regarded as a prime example of the improvement of art in the service of religion.”


CHRIST THE KING STATUE

ctkstatueinstallationOn the occasion of the Silver Anniversary of the parish, Father Corcoran had erected an impressive twelve-foot tall Carrera marble statue of Christ the King, standing on a six foot base in the form of the world inscribed with the biblical inscription “King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15)”.

Since 1951, it has stood facing north from the church as a symbol of the mission of this parish to carry out Christ’s mission of service and love to the people of the area. This statue was designed by A.J. Arany, and was quarried and carved in Italy by Biaigni. It was set in its place by the same contractor that had initially built the church, Joseph A. McNeill.

This monument to Christ, King of All Nations, was fittingly dedicated on January 2nd, 1951, the Feast of the Epiphany, the day which commemorates the first Gentile recognition of the Royal Babe in the poor manger, and blessed by a latter day Timothy, the then auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Timothy Manning. The event was covered by the press.

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