History of OLA

“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.

Archbishop Gerald P. O'Hara

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.

Our Lady of the Assumption Church, 1970

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 was dedicated on November 4, 2005 by the newly assigned Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, S.L.D. In addition to the new church, the parish gained a Parish Preschool, Youth Room, and Moylan Hall. 

OLA continues to expand. In December of 2018 the OLA School dedicated its new building which includes a state of the art kitchen which allows for onsite meal service and provides the flexibility to utilize catering services for a variety of school and parish events. The expansion also added a  STREAM lab, three pre-k classrooms, two music rooms, a middle school wing, administrative offices, and a large conference room. The addition became the new front entrance of the school with an atrium that shines natural light and serves as a flexible activity space for a wide variety of school and OLA community events. An elevator was added to improve access for those with mobility challenges.

In the spring of 2019 the parish broke ground and began construction of a new, larger rectory that will be able to house 5 priests! In the Society of Mary’s General Chapter Statements and Decisions of 2017 we were encouraged to keep “communities of a minimum size of 4/5 to allow for sufficient diversity, interaction, and continuity of community life.”  This new space will be used by our religious to provide an enhanced community life and deeper opportunity for prayer that helps the Marists of our parish better serve the OLA community and greatly enhances the spiritual life of our entire parish family.

In the summer of 2019 the Parish Preschool is expanding into the current youth room space to add a kitchenette and additional classrooms. The youth groups will meet in a temporary space until final construction on campus is completed. 

Once the rectory construction is completed and the priests move into the new rectory, the current rectory will be renovated into a new parish office and additional meeting space – meeting space that is desperately needed on our campus!

Once the staff has moved into the new parish office, renovations will begin on our current parish office.  Those renovations will benefit both the school and parish. The school will receive new offices. The parish will receive a new youth room and newly renovated offices. Construction should be completed by the summer of 2020. 

Pastors of OLA

Msgr. Joseph Moylan, 1951-1965
Rev. Thomas J. Roshentko, SM, 1968-1971
Rev. Paul J. Burkort, SM, 1971-1972
Rev. Thomas A. Stokes, SM, 1972-1976
Rev. Vincent P. Brennan, SM, 1972-1976
Rev. William F. Seli, SM, 1976-1982
Rev. Edward J. Murray, SM, 1982-1988
Rev. Joseph P. Caffrey, SM, 1988-1991
Rev. Andrew G. McCormack, SM, 1991-1997
Rev. James F. McGoldrick, SM, 1997-2006
Rev. James D. Duffy, SM, 2006-Present

Diocesan Priests Who Have Served OLA

Rev. Harold J. Barr
Rev. Cornelius L. Maloney
Rev. Martin J. Jerreau, SJ
Rev. James L. Harrison
Rev. J. Douglas Edwards
Rev. Charels Maloney
Rev. John D. Stapleton
Rev. Philip McConville
Rev. Kenny Sweeney
Rev. William G. Hoffman
Rev. Paul F. Kelley
Rev. Kenneth Doyle
Rev. Andrew J. McDonald
Rev. Richard B. Morrow
Rev. John J. Cotter
Rev. Michael A. Morris

Marists Who Have Served OLA

Rev. Clarence Joseph Biggers, SM
Rev. John Bolduc, SM
Rev. Patrick Byrne, SM
Rev. Raymond J. Carr, SM
Rev. C. A. Chauve, SM
Rev. Hector Cruz, SM
Rev. Thomas C. Dowling, SM
Rev. Eugene J. Driscoll, SM
Rev. Kevin Duggan, SM

Rev. Fortune C. Frenoy, SM
Rev. Charles Girard, SM
Rev. Joel Grissom, SM
Rev. John Hand, SM
Rev. John Hanf, SM
Rev. Eugene E. Hughes, SM
Rev. Michael J. Hovan, SM
Rev. Desmond Hunt, SM
Rev. Joseph Hurtuk, SM
Rev. Francis J. Keany, SM
Rev. Edwin Keel, SM
Rev. L.P. Kellerman, SM
Rev. Mark Kenney, SM
Br. Richard V. Kirk, SM
Rev. John L. Jazwiecki, SM
Rev. Philip J. McArdle, SM
Rev. George Meiluta, SM
Bro. Ernie Morasci, SM
Rev. Thomas D. O’Donnell, SM
Rev. Thomas Ryan, SM
Rev. William F. Rowland, SM
Rev. Daniel J. Seccomb, SM
Rev. Lawrence Schmuhl, SM
Rev. John Sullivan, SM
Rev. John M. Ulrich, SM