Christ Our Hope, Lithonia
By a decree issued on May 25, 1984 the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta established the first Catholic Church in Lithonia. Father John C. Kieran was assigned as founding pastor to establish the new parish effective August 1, 1984. The first celebration of Mass took place in Lithonia First United Methodist Church on October 21st of that year. The name Christ our Hope was chosen from the opening words of 1 Timothy 1:1 “Christ Jesus, Our Hope.” The logo is a combination of the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ (chi and rho) and the anchor cross used by the early Christians as the symbol of hope.
A future church site of 20 acres off of Wellborn Road was selected and a groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 22, 1986. From December 1984 until construction was completed, Mass was celebrated in Lithonia High School. On August 2, 1987 the original multipurpose building was dedicated. The master plan and location of the first building was designed by architect, William E. Stembridge, to allow for space for a church in front of the initial building in the future.
Effective June 20, 1991, Father Austin Fogarty was appointed pastor of Christ Our Hope. During his tenure a new men’s service group was established to make the renovations to the church a reality, a revitalized religious education program was implemented, and the music ministry was expanded. The newly elected Pastoral Council moved the parish into the new decade.
In February 1997, Father Paul Flood was appointed as the third pastor of Christ Our Hope. Recognizing the original idea that the existing building was never intended to permanently serve as the church, Fr. Flood formulated a plan to move towards fulfilling the long-term master plan. He initiated a capital campaign to build a new church – called, “Hope for Tomorrow”.
On May 1, 2000 the groundbreaking ceremony was held with a Mass presided over by Archbishop John F. Donoghue. Pastor Paul Flood and Deacon Bill McKenzie concelebrated mass on the momentous occasion. The new church building is approximately 5700 sq. ft and seats about 375 persons. It has allowed for a parish hall to rejuvenate religious education programs and provide a gathering place for parishioners to enliven their faith. The project took over seven months to complete and culminated in a dedication Mass celebrated by Archbishop Donoghue in February 2001.
Father John (Jack) Durkin became the fourth pastor of Christ Our Hope November 2001. Fr. Durkin reconvened both the Pastoral and Finance Councils, revitalized the religious education programs, and instituted new programs, such as the Adult Bible Education, Natural Family planning series and the Legion of Mary. During his leadership the membership grew to 470 families from a multitude of cultures and ethnicities. Under Fr. Durkin’s leadership and spiritual guidance, Christ Our Hope witnessed the ordination of Deacon Bill McKenzie on February 8, 2003. He became the second ordained Deacon in the parish.
Fr. Guyma Noel became Christ Our Hope fifth pastor in February 2005. With over 300 families in the parish, membership is primarily from the various countries of Africa, Caribbean, and 20 states. Fr. Noel has tried to find meaningful ways to incorporate the spiritual and corporal needs of this multinational congregation. One of his major achievements has been to enhance the spiritual needs of the diverse cultures through the Music Ministry.
Edited September 27, 2010