Before 1928 there was no Wonder Lake. During that year a group of Chicago businessmen purchased as much farmland along Nippersink Creek in McHenry County as was possible. A dam (long since condemned) was built at the north end of the creek thereby flooding a large, marshy spring-fed area to the south, forming what is now known as Wonder Lake. For a few years, land was sold only to a small number of people, and not many cabins were built on this largest privately-owned lake in the state of Illinois.
Then during the depression years of the 1930's many poor families bought modest cabins along the lake. Such purchases were in many cases last resort, since most of them worked, if they had jobs, in Chicago, sixty miles away.
The 1940's saw, however, a rapid growth in population - largely summer residents of modest means. The 1950's saw an even greater increase with one significant difference: the number of summer residents began to decline and the number of permanent residents increased.
Catholics moving into the Wonder Lake region attended Mass in the city of McHenry, mainly at St. Patrick's. In 1947, Bishop Boylan appointed Rev. James Vanderpool, administrator of St. Patrick's with the intent of Father Vanderpool investigating the religious outlook of a possible parish at Wonder Lake.
This investigation and concern for Wonder Lake resulted from the long-standing interest of Msgr. Charles Nix, pastor at St. Mary's in McHenry from 1921 until his death in 1960.
The family census taken by Father Vanderpool did not indicate any great need for a Wonder Lake parish, since it revealed only 17 families attending services in McHenry.
Nevertheless, arrangements were made to rent space in Harrison Public School for the celebration of Mass. More than 600 persons jammed into the small school for the two Masses that first Sunday. It was obvious on that first day that a church was needed for the new congregation.
McHenry Catholics again and again came to the aid of the Wonder Lake area. In July, 1947, a carnival was sponsored by St. Mary Parish to aid the Wonder Lake building fund. The fund was further supplemented by a Labor Day festival, and work began shortly after on the first Christ the King Church.
The first church was a basement church constructed on property donated by the Wonder Lake developers, headed by E. R. Jacobson. The basement of the church was completed in July of 1947. A roof was put on it, and that structure, complete with a vital coal stove, was to serve the parish for the next 10 years.
In May of 1948, Father Vanderpool was transferred from St. Patrick's and Father Edward Coakley was appointed pastor. Father Coakley assumed charge over the mission at Wonder Lake until August 25, 1949, when Bishop Boylan raised Christ the King from the status of a mission to that of an independent parish and appointed Father Vanderpool as administrator. A house was rented for a few months until a temporary rectory was purchased in 1950.
The parish bought a 24-acre tract several miles north of the original church in 1954. A cemetery, part of the new property, was consecrated in February, 1955, by Bishop Raymond Hillinger. Enough funds had been raised by the summer of 1957 for permission to be granted for the construction of a new church, school and rectory complex. On August 13, 1957, Father Vanderpool was appointed pastor.
The new Christ the King Church was dedicated on October 26, 1958, by Bishop Loras T. Lane. The old structure was sold and after serving as the local American Legion Post for several years, the original structure was replaced by the building that now houses Marquise Banquet Hall.
Father Vanderpool was succeeded by Father Eugene Parker in June, 1967. Father Parker was transferred in January, 1969 and Father Dorrance E. Tranel became pastor of Christ the King parish, a post which he held until his retirement in 2002. The school was never opened because of a lack of parishioners to staff the school.
Under Father Tranel, the parish has expanded to 500 families in Wonder Lake and surrounding area. The parish school building is used for a CCD program, other religious education endeavors, and community-centered meetings.
Since Father Tranel's retirement in 2002, the parish has been pastored by: Father Louis Tosto, Father Steven M. Sabo, and Father Andrew Skrobutt. As of July 1, 2014, Father Joel Lopez has been assigned as Parochial Administrator. Two young men from the parish have been ordained to the priesthood, Father William Condren and Father Tim Barr.