“I have thought of a title such as ‘Our Lady of the Assumption’ or ‘St. Mary of the Assumption,’” wrote Archbishop Gerald P. O’Hara of the Savannah-Atlanta Diocese in early 1951 when asked his recommendation for a name of Atlanta’s newest Catholic parish. He continued his letter to Monsignor Joseph E. Moylan saying, “We would be honoring Our Lady through the newly declared dogma of Her Assumption.” On November 1, 1950 Pope Pius XII had solemnly declared in the document Munificentissimus Deus the following: “We pronounce, declare, and define it to be divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” In the declaration of the doctrine we are sustained in the confidence of our bodily resurrection. According to the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution of the Church (Lumen Gentium), Mary’s Assumption is, “a sign of certain hope and comfort to the Pilgrim People of God.”
Imagine meeting for Mass in a converted Army barracks in the vicinity of the future DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. That is what those early parishioners did, under the pastorate of Monsignor Joseph E. Moylan, while awaiting the construction of a church. Seven and a half acres were purchased in Oglethorpe Estates on Hearst Drive in Brookhaven. Initial construction began on a school-chapel building and a convent for the Sisters of Mercy. During the construction, Masses were celebrated in the Old Lawton Hospital, and later in the auditorium of the Jim Cherry School. The school chapel was first used by the parish in May 1952.
Our Lady of the Assumption School opened in September 1952 with 176 students enrolled in kindergarten through 5th grade. The Sisters of Mercy conducted the educational and spiritual life of the school in the spirit of its founder, Mother McAuley. Sister Mary Assumpta, R.S.M. was the Superior. Sister Mary Christine, R.S.M. was the first principal. Construction began on a temporary church in May 1957, with the understanding that in the future the building would serve as the school gymnasium. OLA parishioner Mr. Warren F. Penney, A.I.A., designed the new church. On September 8, 1957 Monsignor Moylan celebrated the first Mass on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother.
In 1965, Archbishop John Hallinan requested that the Society of Mary (Marist Fathers and Brothers), who had been serving at Sacred Heart Parish since 1897, relinquish that parish and assume pastoral care of Our Lady of the Assumption. The Marists had already relocated Marist College from downtown Atlanta to the current location of the Marist School on Ashford-Dunwoody Road. In 1979, the parish began renovations to the sanctuary. The building never did become the school gymnasium. Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan dedicated the renovated church on December 19, 1981.
In 1989, the parish renovated the parish hall, rectory, and former convent. The plan moved the parish offices from the rectory to the former convent. The parish center contained a meditation chapel, the parish offices, parish library/conference room, and mail/work room. In 1999, the Parish Pastoral Council authorized a Building Committee to assess the future needs of the parish. Later that year the committee presented the parish with a plan for a permanent church and a new parish hall building. The Archdiocese of Atlanta gave its blessing, and the fundraising began.
A master plan was developed and presented to the DeKalb County Commission. The parish broke ground in 2003, and began construction. The new church and parish life center was dedicated on November 4, 2005 by the newly assigned Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, S.L.D.