[ Baden Soellingen ]

Roman Catholic Church
Christ the King
The first official event of Christ the King R.C. Chapel was the baptism of Walter Eli Tatarchuk, then 23, on 60ctobcr 1953. Sadly, the first funeral ever held was on 19 March 1954 for Wing Commander William Darrageh, 34, who was killed in a flying accident.

On a rainy, cloudy day, 14 November 1953, James William Wright and Sheila Verrall, both of 4 (F) Wing, Baden-Soellingen, made history, they were the first couple to be wed in this chapel.

Father Norman Gallagher was the first priest posted to Baden. He was the one who opened the chapel July 1954. Later he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop to the Military Vicarage.

Helma Frank is the longest serving secretary to Chaplains in Canadian Chaplaincy History. She has capably and diligently served here for 30 years with all the priests since 1962. Of 29 Chaplains (RC) posted here, Helma can speak of 25 of them. When asked, Helma has stated, "I have enjoyed every minute of it".

As of this writing, 316 weddings, 87 funerals, and 2198 baptisms have taken place in our chapel.

Originally, the Chapel had a stone pulpit with a wrought-iron staircase leading up to it. The communion rail was a slab of polished stone on designed iron and a fringe of the same metalwork latticed and surrounded the main altar. The chapel has remained much the same as when it was built in 1950. A new, lighter altar was substituted for the heavy stone one which was causing the floor to sink.

Of note, are the beautiful stained glass windows located to the left of the altar. These remarkable windows were manufactured in Munich in 1870 and installed in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Pierre le Jeune in Stras-bourg. At that time the city of Strasbourg was within Germany. The Catholics and Lutherans, who were about equal in numbers, both laid claims to the churches. The Kaiser of Berlin awarded this church to the Lutherans. The windows, immediately removed, were picked up and stored by an antique dealer of Strasbourg. Father Gallagher saw them stored in dusty wooden boxes, covered by small pillars of Carrara Marble. Finding the bargain of a lifetime, Father was astonished at the price of 80 000 Francs, approximately 240 dollars. Contributions, both large and small, from officers and airmen alike, soon paid for them. Today they stand as a memorial to the cause of peace. People still enjoy their beauty.

When 3 RCR returned to Canada, on 3 June 1985, a beautiful Memorial window was installed in our Chapel. On the occasion of the close-down of the CF-104 Starfighter operations in Europe, another stained glass window was donated on 2 March 1986.

Christ the King Chapel has many ties with neighbouring German priests and parishioners. Father Oskar Baumann, the Parish Priest of Hugelsheim, has been friends with and supported our Chaplains for 28 years. Since his retirement the good relations were kept up with the priests of Sinzheim. Although our Chapel is part of the Canadian Military Ordinariate, for European administration purposes, it belongs to the Archdiocese of Freiburg and to the parish of Soellingen.

One of the parish's most important projects was to provide Christmas gifts for the orphans and retired nuns of St. Vincent's Home in Sinzheim and St. Francis' Home in Schwarzach for the past 30 years. For many, this was the only Christmas they received. The Chapel also provided used clothing for needy families in France and food hampers and clothes for needy families in the local area.

Establishing good relations with the surrounding community, Father Richard Bussey (1966-1969), organized the single pilots and got them out playing ball with the orphans. 421 and 422 squadrons even raised enough money to supply equipment for the orphan's newly built Sportplatz at St. Vincent's Home in Sinzheim.

Father Bussey was also the man responsible for taking an interest in the children's graveyard at Soellingen. He arranged for a stone plaque with the words, "LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME UNTO ME", to be erected and had the overgrown, untended mounds smoothed over and little stones with the names inscribed laid on each grave.

For the past 35 years military personnel from our base have participated in the Annual International Military Pilgrimage at Lourdes, France to pray for peace.

Another notable event was the opening and dedication of the newly built Parish Hall on 8 March, 1990. The Base Commander, Colonel Keith McDonald, cut the ribbon in the presence of Major Bob Rennie, Protestant Chaplain and Lieutenant Commander Richard Marchand, Roman Catholic Chaplain.

As this Chapel's history will come to a close with the base closure, Baden-Soellingen will live on in the objects that will be repatriated and gifted to other Military Roman Catholic Chapels across Canada. People who have experienced faith within our services will fondly remember their faith life .here. As Christians going forth from this community we will take our faith to the new bases we will serve.

[ Baden Remembered | Forty Years ]