History of the Marists
(Society of Mary)
The Priests of the Society of Mary Have Served OLA since 1965. This is their story.
The founder of the Society of Mary, Jean Claude Colin, was born in southern France a year after the French Revolution in 1790. Colin, who was ordained a priest in 1816 with a group of twelve young men, pledged to found a new religious congregation. This new society, while taking its name and spirit from the Virgin Mary, would address the problems of the post-Revolutionary world.
In 1836 Pope Gregory XVI asked Colin and the new society to undertake missions to the vast area of the South Pacific from New Zealand to the Marshall Islands, from New Guinea to Tonga and beyond. His ready acceptance brought papal approbation for the priests’ branch of the Society of Mary and propelled it and Colin on to the wider world stage.
The first Marists arrived in the United States in New Orleans, Louisiana on Good Friday, April 3, 1863 during the Civil War. There they staffed a parish and a college.
On June 4, 1897, Marist Fathers arrived in Atlanta to take charge of Saints Peter and Paul Church. Because the church was not easily accessible to most of the congregation, the need for a new church was obvious. On the day of the dedication on the new church, May 1, 1898, Bishop Becker of Savannah gave a new name to the parish: the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The next step was to begin a new school. The new school, Marist College, opened its doors on Wednesday, October 2, 1901.
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. Our Lady of the Assumption Parish was founded in 1951 with the first Pastor, Msgr. Joseph Moylan. The School opened in September 1952 with 176 students.
OLA's first Marist Pastor was Rev. Thomas J. Roshetko, S.M.
The Marist had already relocated Marist College from downtown Atlanta to the current location of the Marist School on Ashford-Dunwoody Road. In 1999 the Parish presented to the Archdiocese a plan for a permanent church and a new parish hall building. The Archdiocese of Atlanta gave its blessing, and the fundraising began. In 2003, the parish broke ground, and construction began.
On November 4, 2005 Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, S.L.D. consecrated the new church and facilities.