By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published November 12, 2009
Three churches in the Atlanta Archdiocese mark their silver jubilee as faith communities this year.
They are Christ Our Hope Church, Lithonia; Jasper’s Our Lady of the Mountains Church; and Our Lady of LaSalette Church, Canton.
Christ Our Hope, Lithonia
Parishioners who stream into this Atlanta area church come from more than 50 countries, from Africa and Asia to Europe and the Caribbean.
Our Lady Of The Mountains, Jasper
As more Catholics moved into Pickens County during the early 1980s, the mission church of Our Lady of LaSalette in Canton was becoming too cramped.
A 126-seat building was built in Jasper in 1987 and by 2000 the mission had outgrown that home. In 2002, the church was renovated to seat 550 people. A year later, the mission was elevated to a parish with Father Frank Richardson as pastor. In 2009, Father Charles Byrd took over as pastor.
On Saturday, Sept. 12, the community gathered to mark the special anniversary of its founding as a mission.
At the special anniversary Mass, founders of the parish were recognized with corsages and boutonnieres. Priests from the early days, including the first pastor, Father Richardson, were there and concelebrated the Mass. The Legion of Mary carried an icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which was blessed. Following Mass, brunch was shared with the parishioners.
Our Lady Of LaSalette, Canton
This parish in Canton has a history going back 40 years.
In 1969, the then-mission was staffed by Missionaries of Our Lady of LaSalette. The mission was linked to St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Cartersville. Mass was celebrated in the Georgia Power building in Canton. The mission consisted of 12 families when the first Mass was celebrated and it served all the Catholics in Cherokee and Pickens counties. Eight years later, a new church was dedicated. In a decade, the number of Catholics had increased to 140 families.
In Canton, the 25-year anniversary has been marked frequently throughout the year, from remembering the founders on All Saints Day to a three-day period of prayer leading up to the feast day of Our Lady of LaSalette on Sept. 19. A formal dinner is planned for early 2010.
Father Reyes, the pastor for two years, said the parish wanted to do more than throw a party, but rather have a “spiritual celebration” to mark the special year.
He said the goal is to have a jubilee year in the spirit of the Hebrew tradition.
“We enter together this time of celebration with the hope that at the end that we will be different. We will be transformed,” he said.