At first, Franciscan priests from St. Elizabeth’s in Denver traveled up Bear Creek Canyon to offer masses in Evergreen’s Episcopal chapel. Later, Monsignor John Moran of St. Joseph’s in Golden tended to the Evergreen faithful, establishing Christ the King mission in 1924.
Shortly afterwards, George F. Cottrell donated a church site on the west side of the highway – a lovely, ponderosa pine-shaded site with the Evergreen Cemetery to the north and Dedisee Park to the south. With generous contributions from the John Vails, Edward Delehanty, Herbert Farrall, Joseph Little, Herbert White, and others, a rustic moss rock and log chapel was completed in 1935. John K. Monroe designed the structure, which was dedicated by Bishop Vehr in April 1936. Barry J. Wogan was assigned to Christ the King as its first pastor, followed in 1949 by John H. Kelly. Not until 1951, with the appointment of Joseph Bosch as the first resident pastor, did the little mountain town become independent of St. Joseph’s in Golden.
George Greer and his family donated a rectory with a landscaped patio, while other parishioners helped construct a roadside shrine to St. Jude and an outdoor altar dedicated to Our Sorrowful Mother. Donald A. McMahon took a special interest, while serving as pastor, in gracing the picturesque church with fine art, including a life-sized Pieta fashioned of lead by Denver artist William Joseph. In 1956, Archbishop Vehr blessed a $75,000 parish hall, designed by architect-parishioner Frank W. Kullman, for the congregation of around 150 households.
Father Leo Blach, who became pastor in 1964, purchased seventeen acres of adjacent land in 1966. The following year, the parish sold its property across the road to the State Highway Department, which was widening Colorado 74 to accommodate the rapid growth transforming what had been a little town of 1,027 in 1950 to a city of 6,376 by 1980.
The first parish council, formed in 1968, hired John V. McCarthy Associates of Detroit to conduct a fund drive for a new church and education center. After pledges reached the $88,000 mark in 1970, ground was broken for a new church and parish hall designed by Seracuse and Lawler, a Denver architectural firm.
Archbishop Casey blessed the new $247,000 church on May 24, 1971. It seated 400 and had five lower-level classrooms. The old stone church was razed, having been outgrown by a parish that had come to number over 500 households. To reach his far-flung flock, Msgr. Robert F. Hoffman experimented with monthly services in “little parishes” scattered around the foothills. In 1978, the first masses were celebrated in Conifer. This would eventually blossom in to the Parish of Our Lady of the Pines, which became independent of Christ the King in 1993.
Fr. John Murphy ushered Christ the King into the 1990’s, and under his leadership, the parish continued to grow like the surrounding Evergreen community. Under Fr. Murphy, Christ the King became the largest church in the “mountain area”, and it remains so today. The1990’s also were a time where the parish renewed its dedication to educating our youth, and anchored its efforts around the innovative Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. Even to this day Christ the King boasts of one of the strongest educational programs in Northern Colorado.
Fr. Christopher Renner became pastor in 1999, and during his tenure has seen the parish base again drastically expand, now to over 1,100 families. Such were the demands for educational, spiritual, administrative, and social space, that Fr. Renner and the Pastoral Council decided to move forward with an expansion project which would knock down the beloved old parish hall and Cabrini House and add 17,000 square feet of new space. Construction began on the $4.5 million project in September of 2009, and the new Parish Center was finished just in time to be dedicated by Archbishop Chaput on October 10, 2010. The new 3,600 square foot parish hall was named after St. Francis, to recognize his patronage of the state of Colorado and to honor the Franciscans who first established a Catholic presence in Evergreen and celebrated Mass with the faithful there.