Published September 20, 2018
MARIETTA—Joined by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, the members of St. Ann Church, Marietta, celebrated the 40th anniversary of their parish at an Aug. 5 Mass.
A gala Founder’s Weekend evening of food and dancing Aug. 3 preceded the Mass and the community continued the anniversary celebration with a ministry fair and Atlanta Braves Night events in September. The commemoration will culminate with a parish festival on Sunday, Oct. 7.
Recognizing the growth in Cobb County, then-Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan of Atlanta purchased just over seven acres of land at the corner of Bishop Lake Road and Roswell Road in 1976. On July 3, 1978, Archbishop Donnellan established the fifth Catholic Church in Cobb, effective Aug. 6.
The new parish was entrusted to the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette. First named Bishop Lake Catholic Church, the archbishop consulted parishioners and placed the new parish under the patronage of St. Ann, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mickie Boyle’s family was one of the founding families of St. Ann.
“We met our first pastor, Father Thomas Carroll, MS, when he preached at Holy Family parish announcing the formation of the new parish on Bishop Lake Road in East Cobb County,” she recalled. “We invited Father Carroll and his assistant Brother Peter Collins, MS, to come to our home for dinner.”
The Boyles also invited families from the neighborhood for a home Mass and potluck dinner.
“Knowing that Father Tom had many needs, we asked everyone to bring something to help set up the rectory—dishes, linens … what fun watching our pastor and Brother Peter opening ‘shower gifts’ to outfit the rectory,” she said.
She said as first pastor, Father Carroll was an inspiration.
“He recognized the needs of his parish family. So many of us had moved here away from family and friends. He understood the importance of St. Ann’s becoming home and family to those of us who were so far away from what we knew,” said Boyle. “He also recognized that the Holy Spirit was working diligently in this new family of faith in calling men and women of faith to take a leap of faith in building this new community.”
The Boyles were blessed to serve in a variety of roles at the parish including the pastoral council, and employee and volunteer positions.
“St. Ann’s has, for the past 40 years, been our community of faith, our family and our friends,” she said.
Initially Masses were held at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church until construction of the new church was complete on the purchased property that had been a horse farm. The first Mass in the new church was on Christmas Eve 1980, and St. Ann was dedicated on Jan. 3, 1981.
From a modest beginning with 175 families, St. Ann now has more than 4,500 families.
More than 11,000 Masses have been celebrated in the past four decades. Today, 83 ministries meet the needs of the changing parishioner demographics and also the greater Cobb County community.
From 1978 to present, under the leadership of La Salette priests Father Carroll, Father Bob Susan, Father Tom Reilly and the current pastor, Father Ray Cadran, St. Ann has been able to grow and change.
The parish community has experienced the addition of a balcony, a gymnasium, expansion of classrooms, new land purchases, a narthex expansion, interior nave renovations with the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and the addition of Reilly Field and a pavilion for needed green space.
In addition to physical changes, spiritual changes have had profound impact. Liturgies are welcoming and vibrant with music and use of audiovisual technology playing an integral part in creating a family atmosphere. Preschool and religious education programs have been revamped and are infused with the message to serve. The parish’s programs have been recognized for their innovative approaches.
A greater number of mission trips for middle and high school students, as well as adults, help serve the homeless, the hungry and the imprisoned locally and internationally.
The charism of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette focuses on reconciliation and the Eucharist. In 1846, at La Salette in France, the Blessed Mother appeared to two children.
In a welcome video, Father Cadran said the missionaries work in 26 countries to help make the reconciling, peace building and mercy-filled vision of Our Lady of La Salette understood.
“Each of our La Salette ministries, like this parish community, is called to be an integral part of making the message known, he said.
To learn more about St. Ann Church, or to view its 40th anniversary video, go to st-ann.org.