In 1846, at La Salette in France, the Blessed Mother appeared to two children. Speaking to them, she told them to “make known to all my people” her message. Inspired by Mary’s call for reconciliation with God, the Missionaries of La Salette were founded in 1852 as “ministers of religion” to be “faithful dispensers of the mysteries of God.” Their charism focuses on Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Today, the Missionaries of La Salette wear many hats—from caring for the spiritual needs of visitors to the shrines and members of parish communities to serving as chaplains, teachers, youth ministers, and counselors. The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, has over 200 members serving in the United States and Canada, as well as in Argentina and Bolivia, working together with bishops, clergy, parishioners, pilgrims, and others throughout North America and the mission region in South America. Reflective common prayer, celebration of the Eucharist, and faith sharing are essential to achieving the La Salette mission to make this message of reconciliation known to all people.
The La Salette Crucifix, with its hammer and pincers, was first worn by Our Lady on September 19, 1846 at the apparition at La Salette in France. The hammer on the crucifix symbolizes the sins of humanity that put the nails into the hand hands of Jesus; the pincers symbolize the good actions we do which remove the nails from Jesus’ hands.
Prior to August 1978, our parish boundaries belonged entirely to Holy Family Parish on Lower Roswell Road. Realizing the building and growth in Cobb County and particularly in East Cobb, the Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan of Atlanta on April 11, 1976 purchased 7.18 acres of land at the corner of Bishop Lake Road and Roswell Road for a future parish. On July 3, 1978, the Archbishop, established the fifth Catholic Church in Cobb County. The announcement was made in The Georgia Bulletin, on July 6, 1978 (Vol. 16, No. 25) and became effective on August 6, 1978. In announcing the new parish, the Archbishop said: "The continued growth in the number of Catholics in Cobb County makes it necessary to consider two additional parish centers from which to minister to the needs of the faithful. Already existing parishes have grown beyond the point at which those needs can be adequately met. For this reason it seems appropriate at this time to establish one new parish and to realign the boundaries of another relatively new one. After consultation with the pastors of the area and the Archdiocesan Consulters, I hereby establish a new parish in the area of Bishop Lake Road in northeastern Cobb County. This parish will be comprised of territory formerly contained within the boundaries of Holy Family Parish."The new parish was entrusted to the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette headquartered at Hartford, Connecticut. Reverend Thomas J. Carroll, M.S. (from Waterbury, CT) was appointed first Pastor, and Brother Peter Collins, M.S. (from Lowell, MA) was appointed as Pastoral Associate. The first Masses were held on the weekend of August 19th and 20th, 1978 at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 1770 Johnson Ferry Road. We are deeply indebted to Rev. James H. Griffin and his congregation for the hospitality, graciousness and spirit of ecumenism they extended to us. The parish was first called The Bishop Lake Catholic Church and on September 20, 1978, after consulting the parishioners, the Archbishop placed the new parish under the patronage of St. Ann Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A home was purchased in Arthurs Vineyard Subdivision at 3803 Vineyard Court. Parishioners arrived on September 6, 1978 to clean and prepare the home as the first Rectory which opened the next day.
Ground was broken January 13, 1980 for the new Church of St. Ann, which will serve Roman Catholic families in East Cobb. The building will be erected at the junction of Bishop Lake and Roswell Roads. The building will be modern in style commented Brother Peter Collins, M.S. It will fill a growing need in the area. At present, there are around 550 families who are members of St. Anns and it is estimated that when the church is completed in early 1981, there will be over 600 families.
The following is an article written by Mrs. Ann McBride, a parishioner of St. Ann's and published in the April 1981 issue of Our Lady's Missionary, a publication of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette. Our new church rises proudly from the green fields and red clay of East Cobb County, located about twenty miles northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. On Saturday, January 3, 1981, St. Anns received its Solemn Blessing and Dedication by the Most Reverend Thomas A. Donnellan, D.D., Archbishop of Atlanta. It was a joyous and important occasion for the 766 families who had been worshipping there since Christmas Eve. The first Mass in our Church was celebrated by Father Carroll on Christmas Eve, 1980 at 5PM. This was a children's Christmas liturgy as well as a dedication ceremony for the children of the parish. Although the seating capacity of the Church is 630, approximately 900 to 1000 were in attendance at that Mass. The first daily Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel was said by Father Leclerc on January 13, which was one year from the date of groundbreaking.
Building the Church
The Church and Education building together comprise 29,400 sq. feet on a 7.18 acre site, and consist of Sanctuary, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, 11 classrooms and a large hall. All were constructed at a cost of just over $1,129,000. The Church combines both contemporary and traditional design. Gothic arches, warm wooden pews and forest green carpeting form a restful background while overhead the 24 foot diameter wooden chandelier adds a modern note. Mahogany candleholders, pulpit and altar complete the quiet decor. A seven foot figure of the Risen Christ, triumphant in front of the cross, dominates the Sanctuary. Banner stations of the Cross, made by the Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Danvers, MA, stained glass window panels representing the Seven Sacraments and one of St. Ann, which were made by the parishioners, enhance the beauty of the Church. Registration in the Church began to swell as soon as the doors were open; it was not long before the Church was too small. In the Fall of 1983, a balcony was constructed, increasing the seating capacity to 1000. In the summer of 1984, as the number of families continued to increase, the first floor of the Education building which had been used as a parish center was converted to four classrooms a large adult education room, a religious education office, and a storage area.
At the same time a new Parish Center was constructed and completed in time for the New Years Eve Dance of 1984.
During the summer of 1985, plans got underway for the construction of a new rectory. The future widening of State Route 120 would make the noisy front bedrooms of the old Rectory even nosier Construction got underway for the new residence on December 27, 1986. The old rectory was converted into offices for the parish staff during the Summer of 1987. At the end of the 1987-88 School of Religion year, it was decided to build an addition to the present classrooms, offices for the School of Religion and the Youth Ministry program, a Youth Center, a large rehearsal room for various groups in the Church Musical Program and a regulation size gymnasium for both youth and adult sports programs. Construction began in May of 1989 with completion in August of 1990.
In August of 1998, Fr. Bob Susann, Pastor of St. Ann's, announced to the Parish that the Archdiocese of Atlanta gave St. Ann's permission to purchase the 4 1/2 acres of land next to the Church property which will be known as "Mary's House". It will act as a guest house for La Salette priests and their families. Part of the land attached to the house will be used eventually to increase the parking for the Church.
October of 1998 saw St. Ann's with a mission. The new mission established by the Archdiocese will be known as St. Peter Chanel. In January of 2000, a fundraising campaign was begun to increase the present parking lot space by 140 spaces. In March 2001, the property next to the Parish Office Building was purchased.
In October 2005 a Building Committee was assembled to assess the current needs of the Parish. It was determined after interviewing many parishioners and doing a feasibility study with the remainder that the needs included expanding the Narthex which was no more than a pass-through at the time, gutting and renovating the Nave, and building an Activity Center to supplement the lack of meeting space.
In October 2007, after two years of planning, design and fundraising, the Parishioners of St. Ann were told the Nave and Narthex projects would be a reality but the Activity would not due to lack of financial support for that project. Cunneen Parish Fundraising began assembling a team of parishioners to coordinate the fundraising. After a year of fundraising a budget was established for the project and $6,500,000 was pledged. Construction began in September, 2008 and the church, as it currently exists, was dedicated by Archbishop Wilton Gregory in September, 2009.
In September, 2011 a small piece of property next to Mary's House (the small Log Cabin) was cleared and leveled creating a green space for parish functions. The field is called Reilly Field, named after Pastor Fr. Tom Reilly. In May 2012, an outdoor pavilion was constructed on the East-side of the Reilly Field appropriately named "The Pavilion at Reilly Field."