About La Salette
Establishment of the parish
On July 3, 1978, Archbishop Donnellan established the fifth Catholic church in Cobb County. The announcement was made in The Georgia Bulletin on July 6, 1978 (Vol. 16, No. 25). 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 in Hartford, Ct. Reverend Thomas J. Carroll, M.S. (from Waterbury, Ct.) was appointed as the 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 19 and 20, 1978 at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 1770 Johnson Ferry Road. St. Ann's is deeply indebted to Reverend James H. Griffin and his congregation for extending hospitality, graciousness and spirit of ecumenism.
The first name for the new parish was The Bishop Lake Catholic Church. 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 Arthur's Vineyard subdivision at 3803 Vineyard Court. Parishioners arrived on September 6, 1978, to clean and prepare the home to be the first parish rectory, which opened the next day.
Ground was broken January 13, 1980 for the new church of St. Ann at the intersection of Bishop Lake and Roswell Roads. The design for the building was described as "modern in style" by Brother Peter Collins, M.S. At the time of the groundbreaking, there were approximately 550 member 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 comprised 29,400 sq. feet on a 7.18 acre site, and consisted of a sanctuary, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, 11 classrooms and a large hall. All were constructed at a cost of just over $1,129,000.
The church combined both contemporary and traditional design. Gothic arches, warm wooden pews and forest green carpeting formed a restful background while overhead the 24-foot diameter wooden chandelier added a modern note. Mahogany candleholders, pulpit and altar completed the quiet decor.
A seven foot figure of the risen Christ, triumphant in front of the cross, dominated 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, enhanced 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 1,000. 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 Year's Eve dance of 1984.
During the summer of 1985, plans got underway for the construction of a new rectory, as the future widening of Highway 120 would make the noisy front bedrooms of the current rectory even louder. 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 1987-1988 religious education 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 music program and a regulation size gymnasium. Construction began in May 1989, with completion in August 1990.
In August 1998, pastor Father Bob Susann, announced that the archdiocese gave St. Ann's permission to purchase the 4.5 acres of land next to the church property. It contained a house which now acts as a guest house for La Salette priests and their families (Mary's House). Part of the land attached to the house was eventually used to increase the church parking lot after a fundraising campaign in January 2000.
In October 1998, the archdiocese created St. Peter Chanel as a mission of St. Ann's parish. The property next to the parish office building was purchased in March 2001.
In October 2005, a building committee was assembled to assess parish needs. It was determined after interviewing parishioners and doing a feasibility study that the needs included expanding the narthex, 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, it was determined to move forward with the nave and narthex projects, but the activity center could not be built due to lack of funds. 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 D. 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 space is called Reilly Field, in honor of former pastor Father Tom Reilly. In May 2012, an outdoor pavilion was constructed on the east side of Reilly Field.