For 100 years, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church has served as a champion of social justice issues, from fostering regular dialogue to end racial discrimination, advocating for an end to the death penalty in the State of Georgia, to aiding the poor and disenfranchised and improving health care access in Atlanta, and beyond.

On Nov. 22, 1912, it became the first Catholic Church established to meet the spiritual needs of African Americans in the City of Atlanta.
A month earlier its founders opened Atlanta’s first Catholic elementary school for the education of African-American children. The church’s original structure was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917, which engulfed much of the historic Old Fourth Ward.

Today, many Atlantans can attest that the rich history of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, and its former school has been intertwined with that of our city. From the 1940s until 1964 using vehicles to transport patients – many of them children – Our Lady of Lourdes operated the Catholic Colored Clinic, which provided health services to all in need regardless of religious affiliation.

“Our Centennial at Lourdes is an amazing moment for us,” said the Rev. Jeffery Ott, who has been the parish’s pastor for two years. “It is our time to celebrate the great history of our ancestors in the faith — Black Catholics in a town and place where we were few and little known — who worked hard to live as just people in an unjust society.

“It’s our time to dream of our future and walk forward with that same commitment to justice in a world that continues to need some good news, a word of hope, a heart of welcome and compassion. From our historical exhibit to our centennial masses to our gala celebration, I’m excited about sharing Lourdes’ story with Atlanta and the world.”

In celebration of a century of serving God and an entire community, Our Lady of Lourdes will host a series of events in honor of its parish centennial. The public is invited. The centennial theme is: A Century of Witness – A Future of Commitment.

Centennial events include an exhibit of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and School history in the small gallery at the Auburn Avenue Research Library, located at 101 Auburn Avenue, starting Wednesday, Nov. 14. The exhibit will include pictures, a written narrative, a video and artifacts to illustrate the role the church played in the community, from spreading the word of God to education and healthcare.

On Thursday, Nov. ­­15 an Interfaith Service will be held from 7 until 8:30 p.m. at the church, located at 25 Boulevard, N.E. in the heart of Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward. The theme of the Interfaith Service is “Called to be Light in the World” and will feature participants from Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim faith.

A Mass of Thanksgiving with past Priests, Clergy, and Religious will take place Saturday November 17 at 10 a.m. followed by a Welcome Reception.

Regular Masses of Thanksgiving and Eucharist Celebrations in honor of the parish’s Centennial will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 17 and at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Sunday, November 18, 2012.

Culminating the celebration will be a Centennial Gala/Silent Auction from 7 until 11 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at the Atlanta Marriot Marquis Hotel. Tickets are $50.00. For more information contact: ollccgala@gmail.com.

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