We, the members of Our Lady of Lourdes parish, founded in 1912 as an African-American Catholic community, joyfully worship God and seek to share God’s love with all. We strive for genuine friendliness within our diverse community and serve others with the love of Jesus Christ through our time, talent and treasure.
Our Lady of Lourdes was founded in 1911 by the Rev. Ignatius Lissner, of the Society of African Missions. His search for a site to build this mission was met with both anti-black and anti-Catholic sentiment. With the help of J.J. Spalding, a member of nearby Sacred Heart parish, Father Lissner succeeded in purchasing the current site in March of 1912. By November of that year, the building was completed, blessed and dedicated. Father Lissner obtained financing from Mother Katharine Drexel (now Saint Katharine Drexel) a wealthy heiress from Pennsylvania who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, an order established to serve Black and Indian people.
At its founding, the Lourdes complex consisted of the church on the first floor, classrooms on the second and a parish hall on the third floor. (Note: the picture above reflects this configuration.) This mission was to be a memorial to the late Archbishop Patrick Ryan of Philadelphia and was called Our Lady of Lourdes in memory of the day on which he died.
Our Lady of Lourdes is located in the midst of what is now known as the Martin Luther King Jr. Landmark district and we like to think that our parish is a testament to Dr. King’s civil rights dream fulfilled.
The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament staffed Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School until 1974. The school closed in 2001, when the Archdiocese of Atlanta could no longer provide funding. It is now the Katharine Drexel Community Center, which includes church offices, Sunday school classrooms, a choir rehearsal hall, and the Drexel Institute for the Arts. It is also used as a parish hall.
In early 2008, to meet the needs of the growing church, Our Lady of Lourdes introduced a Capital Stewardship Campaign in order to purchase the only adjacent land to the existing property. Over 600 households responded with pledges and donations at the campaign kick-off on Easter Sunday. On June 11, 2008, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission approved the Lourdes’ conceptual master plan/ site plan for the construction of a new sanctuary on the property.
In July 2008, God’s vision for Lourdes moved further toward being fulfilled. Through the combined funds raised through committed church members and friends and the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the land was purchased. We are now embarking upon phase two of our Capital Stewardship Campaign efforts and continuing to ask God to ”Order Our Steps.”