C is for Christ the King Church: Third of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!
Researching an ancestor’s religion is a good way to find valuable family history information — and during my childhood Christ the King Catholic Church in Endwell, N.Y., was both a house of worship and a social gathering place for my family and the other catholic households in our neighborhood.
Christ the King church
Christ the King was walking distance from our house — and my mom, a music education graduate of SUNY Potsdam, was the choir director for many years. The Sundays I spent at mass were a formative part of my childhood — but not in the way the church or my parents expected.
In the years before ecumenism, we had a fire-and-brimstone priest and his sermons were sometimes disturbing — especially his constant exhortations to urge our Jewish and Protestant friends to convert to Catholicism so they would not perish in hell. Yikes! I felt this was unfair and told my parents as much — and thus were sown my first doubts about the church.
Lives of the saints
Other times, his sermons were just boring, so I would turn to my Daily Missal — with my name embossed in gold on its white leather cover — and read the inspiring lives of the saints, which sparked my interest in social reform.
Eventually, my favorite service became Good Friday — when the altar was stripped of ornamentation and all the usual pomp and circumstance was replaced by a simpler celebration of mass.
In this way, week by week as the 1960s unfolded, I began to move away from the church and seek progressive social change in the secular world.
The Infant of Prague
One unique feature of Christ the King — different from St. Madeline Sophie Church where we went when we lived on the farm — was a gilded statue of the Infant of Prague.
Endwell and the surrounding area had many residents of Czech descent. So a statue of the Infant of Prague was a feature in many of my neighbors’ homes, too — sometimes sitting atop the TV or on a curio cabinet in their living room.
Not only that, but the statue was dressed in various homemade outfits throughout the year — such as for Easter or Christmas.
I was fascinated by the intricate craftsmanship with which these tiny outfits were sewn — a tribute to Czech cultural heritage — and I am still reminded of my years in Endwell when I see a statue of the Infant of Prague.
Up next: D is for Darn: I change fifth grade classes. Please stop back!
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