By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published July 10, 2014
ACWORTH—Father Mark Starr will be able to draw on his former career as a professional engineer in his assignment as administrator of a new mission, to be established in Acworth.
Father Starr, who was ordained a priest just two years ago, celebrated his final Mass as a parochial vicar of St. Joseph Church in Marietta on Sunday, June 29.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory assigned Father Starr as administrator of the Acworth mission effective July 1.
The 53-year-old priest says that he has learned from one of the best pastors and gentlemen, Msgr. John Walsh of St. Joseph Church.
“It was a good launching pad,” said Father Starr about his time at the Marietta parish.
“It was my first assignment so I came in very energetic. My main ministry was to the Hispanic community,” he said.
In addition to working closely with Hispanic families, Father Starr is also interested in the Life Teen and prison ministries. “I’ve been a weekly visitor to the Cobb County Jail,” he said.
Another of Father Starr’s interests is catechesis, which he called “essential” for Catholics to understand the faith better to be able to reach out to others. Before entering the seminary, he himself had returned to practice of the Catholic faith after several years where he participated in an evangelical Protestant church.
Upon his ordination, Father Starr told The Georgia Bulletin that he was most looking forward to celebrating the sacraments, especially reconciliation and the Eucharist.
“I also have a heart for those on the outskirts of the faith and our many Hispanic brothers and sisters in Atlanta,” said the then-new priest.
An Ohio native who was raised in Florida, Father Starr learned to speak Spanish as a seminarian participating in a two-month immersion program in Mexico.
Prior to being ordained, Father Starr was a parishioner of St. Theresa Church in Douglasville. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech.
Father Starr said that it’s exciting that the archdiocese is in a position to grow. In addition to Acworth, new missions are forming in Dalton in Whitfield County as well as neighboring Chatsworth in Murray County.
No name has been determined for the Acworth mission, but the priest expects to begin celebrating Masses in the community this fall.
“I have been up there scouting where we could meet for Sunday Masses,” he said.
Announcements about Mass at the mission will be made at St. Joseph, St. Catherine of Siena Church in Kennesaw, and St. Michael the Archangel Church in Woodstock, said Father Starr.
He also hopes to have a website soon. Until one is established, information about the mission will be available on the websites of the three parishes feeding into the new mission.
With many new neighborhood developments in the areas of Cobb County surrounding Acworth, Father Starr expects a lot of families to come to the mission.
“I think it’ll be a cross-section,” he said.
After a property location for the eventual parish is found, Father Starr’s professional experience as an engineer, who owned his own firm, will be helpful with details related to building design and construction.
“I was a contractor at one time,” he said.