Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Smyrna Parish To Celebrate 40th Anniversary

By TONY PEARSON-CLARKE, Special Contributor | Published May 25, 2006

On a Sunday morning in the mid-1960s, about 300 people, excusing themselves as they carefully squeezed by one another into narrow rows of fixed seats, their shoes smacking with the stickiness of each step on the concrete floors, finally settled themselves into well-worn plush seats and reverently turned their attention to the front of the room. There, on a raised stage before a dark-curtained backdrop, Father Richard Morrow celebrated Mass for the newly formed Catholic Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, the second Catholic parish in Cobb County.

On Sunday, June 11, the people of St. Thomas the Apostle, along with pastor Father Jim Kuczynski, MS, and the entire pastoral team, will officially recognize the first 40 years of the church’s presence in the Archdiocese of Atlanta with a special Mass at 1 p.m. at the Mable House Amphitheatre, located at 5239 Floyd Road in Mableton. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory will preside.

The amphitheatre was chosen as the location for the celebration because it holds about 2,000 people—the people of St. Thomas invite all current and former parishioners to attend, including anyone who feels a special connection with the parish community.

Although those early Masses held in Belmont Hills movie theatre in Smyrna were not the very first for the new parish—those were held, starting in June 1966, in other “borrowed spaces” at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church and Nash Middle School—they are emblematic. For all of its lifespan, it seems the community of St. Thomas the Apostle has been defined by much more than the building housing it, which is fortunate indeed, since from the theatre, the community moved to the gymnasium at nearby F.T. Wills High School, then moved for 17 years to a “temporary” (and leaky-roofed) social hall at its current location, before finally dedicating a permanent sanctuary in 1985.

As successive waves of people from both within the United States and from other regions of the world—Vietnam, the Philippines, Bosnia, Mexico, Central and South America, Nigeria—have swelled the membership of St. Thomas to over 4,000 families, even this relatively new building has become a source of challenge, as its seating capacity of around 650, even spread over eight weekend Masses, can barely contain the crowds.

As much as the seemingly endless problem of identifying a suitable meeting place has challenged the people of St. Thomas, perhaps it has inspired them as a church to be creative in making the most of what they have and in developing a special spirit of welcome and reaching out to the community. Meeting in so many spaces has also forced parishioners to recognize that people, more than buildings, make up the church.

Over the interceding decades, the people of St. Thomas the Apostle have created almost 100 ministries to meet spiritual, emotional and physical needs both within and outside of the immediate church family. Most of these ministries were formed by parishioners in response to a mandate from the pastoral team or on their own initiative.

This church’s spirit is captured in the words of former pastor Father James Caffrey, who when presented by parishioners with a perceived need in the church or community, typically responded, “That’s true—why don’t you get the ball rolling!” Meeting needs in spite of individual and collective limitations—in the spirit of the parish’s namesake, the “doubting apostle”—is one of the special qualities that has long defined the charism of St. Thomas the Apostle Church.

The people of St. Thomas are recognizing this milestone year with activities throughout the year. The parish calendar, available online at, lists all activities. Additionally, the organizing committee has been collecting histories of all church ministries and organizations as well as anecdotal stories from parishioners, which will be compiled into an account of the first 40 years of this active and thriving Cobb County parish.

St. Thomas the Apostle Church is located at 4300 King Springs Road in Smyrna.


For more information about the anniversary Mass, contact the parish office at (770) 432-8579, ext. 2.