Most Blessed Sacrament, Atlanta
The foundation for Most Blessed Sacrament parish was laid in 1957 when Mrs. Doris Wilson donated to the Diocese of Atlanta approximately twenty acres of land lying between Fairburn and Austin Roads in the Kings Forest Subdivision. The following year, Bishop Francis E. Hyland established a mission served by Saint Anthony of Padua, in the Ben Hill area of Atlanta. The mission met for public worship first at the Ben Hill Health Center and later at Ben Hill Elementary School. In 1959, Sunday Mass for the Ben Hill Mission was transferred to the new Hall of Council 4420, Knights of Columbus, at the corner of Butner and Tell Roads.
In a letter dated October 21, 1960, Bishop Hyland designated the Ben Hill Mission as the parish of Most Blessed Sacrament effective October 30, 1960. The new parish was formed from portions of Saint Anthony of Padua, West End, and Saint John the Evangelist, Hapeville. Father Walter J. Donovan was appointed as the first pastor.
In March 1962, a facility consisting of a combined parish house and chapel opened at 1926 Austin Road on the Austin/Fairburn Road property. The new facility was used for weekday Mass and for all parish administrative and social functions, with the exception of a few large social affairs. In late 1963, the Parish Council established a committee to search for land for a new parish complex. The committee selected a parcel of 33 acres of land at Stone Road and North Camp Creek Parkway that was purchased on July 23, 1964. In November 1964, the parish broke ground on the new property for a combined school and temporary church designed by Albert O. Ordway, AIA. With the purchase of the Stone Road property, the Archdiocese of Atlanta took back all but a small portion of the land surrounding the building on Austin Road. In return, the Archdiocese cancelled the debt which had been incurred for the construction of the parish house/chapel.
In 1965, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet (St. Louis, MO Province) announced that they were assigning three sisters to Most Blessed Sacrament to operate the new school beginning in September, 1965. At that time, the Austin Road building was converted to a convent for the sisters. Father Donovan then purchased a small house in the vicinity of Campbellton Road. With the construction of the Lakewood Freeway, the rectory was forced to move and Father Donovan relocated to the new Windjammer Apartments on Stone Road, near the new church. In June 1965, due to a significant increase in the size of the congregation and ongoing construction, Sunday Mass was transferred from the Knights of Columbus Hall to the Westgate Theater. Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan celebrated the last mass at the theater on Sunday, December 19, 1965.
In September, 1965, Most Blessed Sacrament School opened with some 200 students (Kindergarten through the 8th Grade) in the facilities of the Headland Heights Methodist Church. The school operated at that locality until the Christmas holiday in 1965. On November 27, 1965, Archbishop Hallinan formally dedicated the new parish facility and the parish celebrated the first mass in the worship center at Christmas.
In June 1971, Father Joseph W. Drohan was named the second pastor at Most Blessed Sacrament and a few months later, he purchased a new rectory at 3445 Stone Road. In June 1975, the administration of the parish was assigned to the Missionaries of Our Lady LaSalette. Father James J. Noonan, M.S. was appointed pastor. Just six months later, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet announced they would not be returning for the 1976-1977 school year. In September 1976, Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan approved the closing of the school when no other order of nuns could be found to operate the school. With the departure of the sisters and the closing of the school, the parish rectory was transferred once again to the Austin Road property.
On June 4, 1978, Archbishop Donnellan established Saint Matthew Mission in Fairburn as a mission of Most Blessed Sacrament parish. For the first year, Father Joseph Baxer, M.S., served the mission while remaining as associate pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament. On October 9, 1979, Archbishop Donnellan established Saint Matthew Mission as a parish and the boundaries of both Most Blessed Sacrament and Saint John the Evangelist were redrawn. Approximately 125 families transferred from Most Blessed Sacrament to Saint Matthew.
On January 14, 1980, Father Peter T. McKeown, M.S., succeeded Father Noonan as pastor. McKeown, in turn, was succeeded by Father Richard LaMadelaine, M.S., on July 1, 1980. Beginning in September 1981, the parish school facilities were leased to Romar Academy for five years. In late 1982, work began on redesigning and rebuilding the church worship areas according to the new liturgical norms. The renovations by the Architecture Design Group of Shelby, N.C. were completed in early 1983. On April 1, 1983, Father William M. Mulcair, M.S., replaced Father LaMadelaine as pastor. Father Mulcair was succeeded by Father Robert E. Dyer, M.S., on June 3, 1986. Reverend Mr. William Lyday became the first permanent deacon ever assigned to the parish on August 1, 1986. Deacon Lyday had previously served with Father Dyer at Saint Thomas the Apostle in Smyrna.
Father Dyer died on November 18, 1986 and Father Neil Jones, M.S., was appointed temporary administrator of the parish. Father Joseph G. Aquino, M. S., was then appointed the eighth pastor and arrived on December 21, 1986. On May 23, 1987, Reverend Mr. Jean Moenk, a longtime member of Most Blessed Sacrament, was ordained a Permanent Deacon and assigned to the parish.
In January 1989, the property on Stone Road was leased out with option to purchase and the parish moved to the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection at the intersection of Dodson and Hogan Roads (the facility was actually within the boundaries of Saint John the Evangelist parish). Holy Week services for Easter 1989 were held at the chapel of Saint Joseph Village on Butner Road due to a scheduling conflict with the Church of the Resurrection. On April 2, 1989, the Church of the Resurrection disbanded, the property was sold, and the rental agreement with Most Blessed Sacrament was terminated. The parish then moved to the chapel at Saint Joseph Village. Archbishop Eugene A. Marino designated the chapel as the permanent home of Most Blessed Sacrament on October 12, 1989.
On June 14, 1990, Father Joseph J. Nolan, M.S., was appointed to succeed Father Aquino as pastor. In June 1992, the LaSalette Order returned Most Blessed Sacrament to the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Archbishop James P. Lyke appointed Father Bruce W. Wilkinson as pastor. During the 1990’s both Deacon William Lyday (1994) and Deacon Jean Moenk (1997) retired from serving at the parish.
In 1998 the church building was enlarged with the construction of a narthex in the front of the structure. Additional changes were also made to the interior of the church to accommodate a growing music ministry. Archbishop John F. Donoghue changed the mission of the Saint Joseph Village from a residential counseling program for children to a counseling program for families in 1999, moving its location away from the Butner Road property. As a result, the parish moved its offices and School of Religion program into one of the former residential cottages, designated The Parish Center - Saint Martin de Porres Hall, next door to the church building. The former Village grounds are now formerly named the grounds of Most Blessed Sacrament. In 2000, the parish opened a book store and gift shop in its parish center, named in honor of St. Katharine Drexel.
In January of 2005, the parish began a three year Capital & Spiritual Renewal Campaign entitled "What Can I Return Back To The Lord For All He Has Done For Me" to address its growing needs. The effort addressed the need for additional space to accommodate the parish's expanding ministry to children and youth and a new entrance to the church building. Deacon Fred Toca (having moved from New Jersey to Atlanta) was assigned in 2006 to serve at Most Blessed Sacrament. In 2007, Deacon Toca and his wife, Olivia, helped establish a parish scholarship award to graduating high school seniors who continue their education after high school. The MBS Scholarship Award program is funded through the support by semi-annual 2nd collections within the parish and by donations from parish members.
The parish is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2010 by constructing a Rosary Garden behind the church building. On October 31, 2010, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory celebrated Mass closing the 50th anniversary celebrations.
Edited on October 14, 2010