Msgr. Richard G. O’Neill & Christ the King

Msgr O'Neill 004

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Msgr. Richard Garland O’Neill, the driving force behind the development of Christ the King in Lexington, Kentucky.

Although officially the second pastor of the parish that was founded in 1945, Msgr. O’Neill took the helm just one month after the first, Msgr. George O’Bryan, who left due to poor health that same summer.

Msgr. O’Neill presided over the building of our beautiful church, then belonging to the Diocese of Covington. Dedicated on May 7, 1967, by Bishop Richard Ackerman, Christ the King would eventually become the Cathedral when the Diocese of Lexington was established in 1988.

Christ the King’s architectural design is described as “contemporary cruciform.” A modern take on Romanesque might not be far off either, but I’m neither an art historian nor an architect.

Denis McNamara mentions Christ the King, and its architect Edward Schulte, favorably in his Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy: “Modernity and churchliness coexist,” (p. 21), and “Noble simplicity combines with dignified beauty to evoke the table of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb” (p. 191).

More information on Msgr. O’Neill, and the booklet from the church dedication, can be found on the Christ the King Archives site. The sanctuary has gone through a couple of remodelings since. The recent one corrected an unfortunate result of an earlier change. It featured the restoration of the tabernacle to the proper place, enthroned behind the altar, as the focal point.

Details of the church are included in the “Guided Tour” document on the Cathedral website, and this is a view of the sanctuary at Pentecost:

Pentecost 008

In gratitude for his great legacy, remembering Msgr. O’Neill in my prayers today!

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

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