Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo courtesy of Vic Romero
Msgr. Albert Jowdy, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta, presents gifts to the founding parishioners at the anniversary Mass Oct. 27.


IHM Church and School celebrate 60 years

Published November 4, 2018  | En Español

ATLANTA—Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory celebrated the 60th Anniversary Mass of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and School on Oct. 27.

“I hear you’ve turned 60,” the Archbishop told the assembly at the beginning of the liturgy. “You look marvelous!”

Concelebrants for the Mass included pastor Msgr. Albert Jowdy and parochial vicar Father Carlos Ortega and former pastor Father Fred Wendel. The parish’s two permanent deacons, Bob Hauert and Erik Wilkinson, assisted.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory chats with altar servers at Immaculate Heart of Mary prior to celebration of the parish and school’s 60th anniversary Oct. 27. The parish will celebrate the anniversary with a concert series. Photo courtesy of Vic Romero

During the liturgy, Msgr. Jowdy recognized 11 parishioners who were among the parish’s founders 60 years ago. He noted that “the parish has been richly blessed both by the sacrifices and dedication of its founders, and by newcomers from around the country and around the world who have brought a beautiful diversity of gifts to parish life.”

The universal prayers of the Mass were offered in Spanish, French, Mandarin, Swahili, Finnish and Croatian.

The anniversary celebration will continue through the current school year. In commemoration of the parish and school’s longstanding commitment to outreach, a day of service is planned on the Briarcliff Road campus on March 9, which will include a Catholic Relief Services “Helping Hands” project.

The community’s rich musical life will be celebrated in a 60th Anniversary Concert Series, which begins with a recital on the parish’s 2009 A. E. Schlueter pipe organ by Atlanta artist Herbert Buffington.

Immaculate Heart of Mary was established in 1958 by Bishop Francis Hyland, the first bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta. The new parish was carved out of the territories of Our Lady of the Assumption in Atlanta and St. Thomas More in Decatur. The first pastor was Msgr. Cornelius Maloney. After his appointment, he quickly set out to build the original church, rectory and school.

To assist him in caring for the children of the new parish school, Msgr. Maloney looked to the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, whose motherhouse was in the Philadelphia area. They graciously accepted the invitation to come south and Sister Gerald Ann Higgins, GNSH, was named the first principal. This would be the beginning of many years of devoted service by the Grey Nuns.

Immaculate Heart of Mary was among the first parishes in Atlanta to offer Mass in Spanish. Many of the first Spanish-speaking parishioners were Cubans, who arrived during the years following the Cuban Revolution. In subsequent years, the parish’s diversity and hospitality have made it a welcome home to new arrivals from all over the world.

Founding parishioners attending the 60th anniversary Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and School were, front pew from left to right, Gloria Bezaire, Jane Nied, and Pauline and Walter Hoch. Photo courtesy of Vic Romero

The Atlanta Cursillo Movement had its beginnings at Immaculate Hear of Mary. In 1966, Msgr. Michael Regan, IHM’s second pastor, asked assistant pastor Father Richard Kieran and a small group of parishioners to experience a Cursillo retreat in Chicago. The Atlantans and a team of Cursillistas from Chicago returned to offer Atlanta’s first Cursillo weekend at IHM.

As the years passed and the parish grew, the original buildings needed to be expanded and modernized. The Maloney Center was built as a parish hall in 1985.

In 2000, the parish identified an urgent need for additional meeting space, office space, new living quarters for the priests and a possible expansion of the church, and a building committee worked diligently on what would become the transformation of the IHM campus. The original rectory and adjoining offices were demolished, as was the convent, and the Maloney Center was converted into parish offices.

In 2008, just in time for the celebration of the parish’s 50th anniversary, the new church building was completed. The parish’s 60th anniversary will see construction begin for a permanent rectory on property directly across Briarcliff Road from the church.