By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published October 6, 2016
NORCROSS—The Chinese Catholic community has its own church home and hopes to begin celebrating Mass there in October.
The new Holy Name of Jesus Chinese Catholic Mission recently purchased a former Baptist church in Norcross for what will be the hub of this small but growing faith community, which has gathered for years at All Saints Church, Dunwoody, for Mass and other celebrations.
Father Bill Hao, the first archdiocesan priest of Chinese descent, is the spiritual leader of the community and administrator of the mission. Speaking five languages, including two Chinese dialects, he has been involved with the community for several years.
The new building was identified after visits to dozens of properties, he said.
“The location, the financials, the acreage and size of the buildings all made sense for our small community and its mission to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people, especially to the Chinese people in metropolitan Atlanta,” he said in an email. “We thank God for this great blessing and we thank all of our donors for their generous support.”
The property at 5395 Light Circle, Norcross, includes three buildings on about six acres of land. It was purchased for about $1.4 million, according to Catholic Construction Services. The largest building can be divided for worship and social gatherings. It is about 10,000 square feet. There are two other buildings on the site able to be used for offices and a two-story classroom building.
Father Hao said the move would take place as soon as possible after the necessary renovation and repair is completed.
New Mass schedule
On Sunday, Oct. 2, the bulletin for the mission said a certificate of occupancy would be sought as soon as the building was inspected by the Gwinnett County fire marshal. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for Dec. 10.
A new Mass schedule will begin as soon as the move takes place, which will include daily Mass four days a week and one Sunday Mass in Chinese and one Sunday Mass in English for youth.
In November 2015, the community marked its 25th anniversary and was recognized by the Archdiocese of Atlanta as a mission. The recognition formalizes the community’s ties to the archdiocese.
The Chinese Catholic community started gathering in 1990, initially to socialize. Then members desired Mass in their native language and began on special occasions to fly in Chinese-speaking priests. English-speaking priests of the archdiocese stepped in when the community asked for weekly Mass. Their homilies would be translated into Chinese.
The community, which has its own religious education program, has gathered every week at All Saints Church with its members longing to have their own church. The Mass schedule at All Saints includes one Sunday Mass and one weekday Mass in Chinese. Members believe with its own church the mission will raise its profile in the Chinese community in metro Atlanta and help the members reach out to others.
In the United States, some 8.5 percent of Chinese identify as Catholic, according to a survey done for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.