By GWEN-DOLYN CUTTER | Published July 22, 2004
Parishioners eagerly welcomed old friends and former pastors, filling the church to capacity while the ushers directed the overflow crowd to the parish hall for Mass on a closed circuit screen, as Christ our Hope Church celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The May 23 Mass was attended by parishioners old and new. More than 150 former members of the parish returned for the celebration, including some from as far away as Texas, Virginia and Florida.
Msgr. Paul Reynolds, vicar general, celebrated the Mass as a representative of Archbishop John F. Donoghue, who could not attend, and Father John Kieran, the founding pastor, whose faith and perseverance helped make Christ Our Hope a reality in Lithonia, gave the homily. Father Austin Fogarty, the second pastor of the church, also concelebrated the Mass.
The Mass was celebrated in the new church built during Father Paul Flood’s years as pastor. He was the third pastor of the church.
During the homily, Father Kieran reflected on the history of Christ Our Hope. The congregation was reminded of what it was like establishing the first Catholic community in Lithonia back in May 1984.
“The colony of believers began meeting at the Brick House Pizza and expanded to individual homes until an agreement was signed with the first United Methodist Church in Lithonia to rent their sanctuary for Sunday Mass and classrooms for monthly religious education classes,” he said.
The first Mass of the newly established community was celebrated in October 1984 and the first church was completed in June 1987 and dedicated on Aug. 2, 1987.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Father Jack Durkin, current pastor, expressed his appreciation to the congregation for coming to celebrate the church’s 20th anniversary. He also thanked all who have served and still serve with generosity and sacrifices to strengthen the life of Christ Our Hope.
A reception followed the Mass in the parish hall, which was the former church building. More than 400 were in attendance at the reception. Doug Van Buren, a former member, provided the music for the reception.
To commemorate the occasion, the current and former pastors of the parish were each presented a framed Christ Our Hope 20th Anniversary invitation.